ICOS this week released its election guide for co-op members. It says that, in light of the existing and further potential for positive impact co-operatives have had on rural areas, when your prospective local and European election candidates approach you looking for your vote, the following issues could be of interest to you and the co-op you are a member of.

ICOS believes it is imperative that Irish voters hold MEPs to act on such a vital sector that impacts on so many people. To this end, we have highlighted some issues that you may like to ask European election candidates that approach you:

CAP implementation
CAP funding comprises of the vast bulk of EU funding to Ireland, and helps underpins the profitability of many co-operative members. We wish to work with new MEPs to ensure the new CAP is implemented to ensure our co-operative businesses have the capacity to grow and thrive.

Single Common Market Organisation (sCMO)
ICOS has focused on the neglected sCMO aspect of the CAP, as it is integral to how our co-operative business cope with market problems and opportunities that will present themselves in the coming years.

Importance of Agriculture
The importance of the unique co-operative business model in the Irish economy, especially in agriculture is insufficiently supported in policy and legislative laws. It is important that this is reinvigorated to encourage a new generation.

Trade Policy
Ireland is locked into EU trade policy as part of a single market of 500 million. Third country markets are the future of growth for many of our established co-ops. It is imperative we fight to ensure that we are at the table to take advantage of opportunities and defend against threats to our businesses.

Food Chain & Competition Issues
Co-operatives have always been the best tool to give members strength in the food chain. But sometimes large factories and retailers can still abuse this, as seen in the current beef crisis. ICOS will continue to use co-operative leverage to combat competition distortion and give members power and a united voice.

Environment & Climate Change efforts
Co-operative businesses and members have traditionally striven to have best practice in green working methods. But this traditional commitment does not mean that our businesses should be mired in overzealous regulation that will choke our growth and employment potential for no real benefit for our surroundings.

Sustainability agenda in Co-ops
ICOS has championed the sustainability agenda for our co-operative business as a means to mark out our world class products as we seek new markets. We look forward to developing initiatives within EU legislation such as promotion and innovation to push this further.

Employment in Co-op enterprise
We are in the midst of one of our nation’s most devastating jobs crises, yet the co-operative model has remained resilient through it all and has even added jobs and output. We hope that policymakers take note of this and put in place strategies to enable our businesses to foster job creation further into the future.

Ongoing EU Policy Campaigns
ICOS has one of the oldest Irish presences of any organisation in the EU with over 40 years of continuous representation and experience representing co-operative business. We work closely with our MEPs across a vast spectrum of issues and below are a shortened list of some of the ongoing campaigns at present:Dairy Policy and Market Development, Quota Soft-landing, Beef Competition, Promotion of Products, Rural Development & Co-ops, Taxation, Labelling, Electronic ID of Animals, Energy, Veterinary Medicines, Animal Health Law, Producer Organisations, Risk management, Volatility Mitigation, Development of Research and Innovation Funding