Comments made by the Taoiseach about famine are in “complete contrast” to the Food Vision Dairy Group recommendations, according to Macra.

At the annual Famine Commemoration Ceremony in Co. Roscommon on Sunday (May 15), Micheál Martin said that “the spectre of famine still haunts millions” 175 years after Ireland’s Great Hunger.

“In Somalia alone, six million people are again affected by food insecurity only 10 years after 250,000 people, many of them children, died from hunger,” the Taoiseach stated.

Macra concerns

Macra welcomed the comments which it said “represent a greater alignment” with the concerns the farming organisation has expressed in many forums, including the Food Vision Dairy Group.

It added that the comments are in “complete contrast” to Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine recommendations, which it claims would reduce output in the dairy sector.

In a revision to its draft interim report, the Food Vision Dairy Group recommends that the dairy sector reduces chemical nitrogen (N) use by 30% by 2025.

The report also includes a recommendation for a “deintensification scheme” which would allow farmers to voluntarily exit from dairy production or to reduce their numbers of dairy cows for a minimum number of years.

The document suggests adopting a common co-op charter on sustainable milk production that “underpins the family farm model”.

It explains that the charter should be a statement of principles based on shared values that will protect and facilitate new entrants, where young farmers with enterprises consistent with the family farm model are prioritised.

Macra na Feirme john keane
Macra na Feirme president, John Keane

“The proposals on cow reduction and on nitrogen reduction measures threaten Irish farmers’ ability to meet the needs of growing global demand for food production and indeed increased demand for dairy produce,” Macra president John Keane said.

“While our Taoiseach speaks about playing our part in meeting the needs of the world, another element of government seems determined to remove any future for young people in our agriculture sector. It is an inconsistent message,” he added.

“Macra na Feirme does not support any reduction scheme that further removes the opportunity for young people to run a family farm and live in rural Ireland,” Keane concluded.