ICMSA: ‘Vote for candidates who support farming’

The rural electorate is being called on to give their votes to candidates who have shown a commitment to farming and agriculture in the upcoming local and European elections.

Pat McCormack, the president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), said that this month’s elections are an opportunity for the candidates to demonstrate their support for farmers, particularity in the area of the environment and climate change.

McCormack argued that these candidates must acknowledge that farming is “part of the solution” to climate issues, and not a “scapegoat for fears being hyped up by people who themselves have no viable answers or solutions”.

The last year has seen three major issues come to the fore at national and international level, any one of which, on its own, has the potential to shape for good or bad the very future of Irish agriculture.

These three issues were, according to McCormack: Brexit: the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); and climate change.

Brexit

“Brexit, CAP post-2020 and climate change, either taken on their own or as a package, will decide whether we will have a rural economy at all,” claimed McCormack.

He pointed out that there is a “clear issue” with the vulnerability of the local economy, and that, despite the delay to Brexit, the prospect of a ‘no-deal’ is a looming danger.

“It is difficult to exaggerate the negative implications for the whole economy and very specifically, farming and rural areas, in the event of a no-deal or ‘hard’ Brexit, and we need to see real actions on this issue.”

CAP

CAP, he said, was another issue that should be a priority for the European Parliament candidates.

“Ireland must ensure that the current CAP budget is at least maintained and that the supports under CAP must be targeted to farmers who are making an economic contribution to their local economy and the national economy,” he argued.

McCormack called for CAP regulations to be “simplified”, and to better reflect Irish agriculture.

Climate change

According to the ICMSA president, farmers were being unfairly targeted in the climate change debate by “certain vested interests”.

He argued: “Ireland is one of the most carbon-efficient producers of dairy and beef on the planet and thus should be supported by all those campaigning for reductions in global emissions.

“It is completely illogical to reduce production of food in carbon-efficient systems and switch that production to other, more environmentally-damaging producers,” he added.

He concluded by saying that farmers and people in rural areas should insist that those going for election put farming at the “top of their agendas”.