Groups funded by farmers ‘need to step up’ for future of farming

Organisations making money on the back of farmers need to step up and do more for the future of Irish farming, according to Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) deputy presidential candidate Brian Rushe.

Rushe, who is the current chairman of Kildare IFA, commented on the “increasing anger at farm level” – from beef farmers in particular – that “more needs to be done to protect the income of family farms”.

“I am acutely aware of the horrendous time our beef farmers are having at the minute. They feel isolated and exposed and their anger has come to the top in recent weeks,” the Co. Kildare farmer said.

Bord Bia ‘photo opportunity’

Contrasting this frustration, Rushe highlighted a “self-congratulatory photo opportunity” from Bord Bia.

“A group of chefs from Korea were brought to Ireland to see how Irish beef has been produced, and we were told that ‘they were all very impressed with the Irish grass-based system’,” Rushe noted.

“This was all part of a marketing campaign being run in Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines – three huge and potentially very lucrative markets.”

However, the chairman noted that such markets are “secured on the back of taxpayers and farmer levy money, farmers’ hard work and our image” – adding that this is what is used to sell and market the beef.

Farmers have an obligation to be completely transparent in everything we do, from the day an animal is born to the day it’s sent to the factory, the farmers’ contribution to the supply chain is 100% transparent; yet the processors who benefit most from these markets are secretive, hiding their profits and offering no such transparency.

“Without farmers there is no food and drink exports, no Origin Green, no trade missions and no supply chain jobs.

“Government and Bord Bia would do well to remember this the next time they step in for a photo opportunity,” Rushe said.

As part of his election manifesto, Rushe said he is fighting for a sustainable farm income for all farm families in Ireland.