Minister vows to tackle ‘anti-farming biases’ at ICMSA AGM

The AGM of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) took place today (Thursday, December 3), in which Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue took part.

The minister told ICMSA president Pat McCormack and other association members that the “challenges in the sector are great, but the opportunities are many”.

He said he was “aware of the pressure farmers feel”, citing environmentalism; animal welfare activists; and what he called the “anti-dairy brigade”.

Many of these anti-farming agendas do not understand the long hours; the hard work; and the care for animals and the environment that you as farmers are already doing.

Speaking about the growth in the dairy sector, Minister McConalogue said: “We must ensure that the benefits of this growth are felt by everyone in the sector.

With regard to Covid-19, he noted: “The effort by all in the dairy industry…is a great example of the resilience of our agriculture sector.”

Brexit

Minister McConalogue was keen to stress that, regardless of whether or not a trade deal is agreed between the EU and UK, the trading relationship between Ireland and the UK will “change forever” from January onwards.

“The success or failure of delivering an agreement between the EU and the UK will be borne out in the coming days. From speaking with EU chief negotiator Michele Barnier last week, I remain hopeful that a deal can be struck that will benefit us,” he told the AGM.

Environment

The minister was keen to stress that he wanted to ensure that “the efforts farmers make in protecting the environment are also rewarded financially too”.

He said he expected “good news” relating to the Green, Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) in the coming days.

He said that GLAS contracts would be extended without any changes except where the land concerned has been lost due to expiry or rental agreement. In that case only, the action affected may be dropped without penalty.

The minister also explained that information packs would be sent to the holders of valid GLAS contracts with details on how to apply for the 2021 extension.

On the pilot scheme to cover farmers over the the transitions period who are not in GLAS, the minister said that it is currently being designed and that he will be seeking the views of farm organisations.