Full agriculture chapter of programme for government emerges

The agriculture chapter of the programme for government, initial details of which came to light yesterday, Sunday, June 14, is now emerging in full, with the final programme for government due to be signed-off on soon.

The leaders of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party are meeting today, Monday, June 15, to iron out some final issues. There is speculation that the document will be finalised later on today.

The agreement commits the three parties to improving farm incomes and protecting “the family farm for future generations”.

The agriculture chapter of the programme for government is exhaustive. This article focuses on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), farm incomes and sectoral issues.

Stay tuned to AgriLand for continuing coverage of the whole agriculture chapter of the document.

CAP

The new government will continue the current Government’s commitment to contributing more to the overall EU budget, if it is spent on measures that “advance the European ideal”.

“The CAP must continue to deliver on high standards of food production, food security, farm incomes, improvements on animal welfare and better environmental outcomes,” the document says.

The agreement makes the following commitments on CAP:

  • To establish a well-funded CAP transition period and new CAP to maintain investment levels in the rural economy and safeguard direct payments;
  • To seek reforms to the CAP to reward farmers for sequestering carbon; restoring biodiversity; improving water and air quality; and producing clean energy and developing schemes;
  • To continue to support farmers to embrace farming practices that are beneficial environmentally; have a lower carbon footprint; and that better utilise and protect natural resources;
  • To support the beef, dairy, sheep, pig, poultry, tillage and horticulture sectors in the context of the next CAP through on-farm investment; the development of producer groups; animal welfare measures; and marketing tools;
  • To introduce a new cap on basic payments;
  • To advocate for a fair system of eligibility conditionality under reform of Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) rules;
  • To invest in enhanced farm safety and well-being measures under the next CAP.

Farm incomes and sectoral supports

The document aims to “protect and enhance the incomes and livelihoods of family farms as the agriculture sector embraces the mission of delivering on climate change and biodiversity objectives, while building on its achievements as a world-class producer of quality food”.

To achieve this, the three parties say they will:

  • Build upon existing schemes in a way that enhances farm incomes while contributing to climate change, biodiversity and animal welfare objectives;
  • Conduct a review of the means test disregards for Farm Assist, with a view to better rewarding farmers availing of the scheme for their enterprise.

Beef

The three parties are, according to the document, “fully committed to the future of the beef sector and the work of the Beef Market Taskforce”.

The commitments for the beef sector include:

  • To ensure the Beef Market Taskforce implements the agreement reached with stakeholders in the beef sector;
  • To ensure greater transparency, cooperation and fairness in the beef industry throughout the supply chain;
  • To ensure that the challenges that beef farmers have been dealing with are recognised and supported under the next CAP;
  • To encourage the establishment of more producer organisations in the beef sector, to provide farmers with the opportunity to build strength in the marketplace;
  • To work at EU level for the development of protected geographic indication (PGI) status for Irish beef;
  • To prioritise funds for the promotion of beef in key markets through Bord Bia;
  • To acknowledge the important and unique role that the suckler sector plays in the beef industry, and to commit to developing supports that recognise this critical role.

Dairy

The next government is committed to “investing strategically” in the dairy sector, focusing on greater efficiency and sustainability.

The government will also continue to develop new markets for dairy produce.

Other key commitments on the dairy sector include:

  • To encourage investment in renewable infrastructure on farms to reduce energy costs;
  • To consider further taxation measures to manage evolving issues such as market volatility;
  • To work with farmers to improve the viability of dairy calf-to-beef systems;
  • To support farmers who wish to add value through on-farm processing of their milk.

Sheep

The prospective government aims to support the sheep sector through the next CAP and maintaining farm incomes in the sector.

Part of this will be to deliver on further export opportunities for sheep produce. The parties also say they are committed to protecting the sector’s interests in trade negotiations.

The next government will also undertake a review of the potential demand in domestic and international markets for wool products.

Tillage

The three parties agree to work with tillage farmers to build growth in the sector through a successor strategy to Food Wise 2025.

The next government will pay particular focus to “maximising opportunities” in the organic sector and the potential for home-grown proteins in animal feeds.

Other sectors

On the pig sector, future investment in the sector will focus on energy efficiency, biosecurity and animal welfare, with animal health being a particular area of concern.

The next government will also work with stakeholders on opening new markets for pig produce.

In the poultry sector, the parties also agree to support further investment, particularly on areas of welfare, biosecurity and energy efficiency.

In the horticulture sector, the document outlines that the parties will look to encourage expansion and growth. Investment will also be made in the promotion of Irish horticulture products, and to enhance capital investment.

Finally, on fibre crops, the potential for growing these crops – such as hemp – will be fully explored.

Stay tuned to AgriLand for further coverage of the agriculture chapter in the programme for government.