Top 10 agriculture priorities for the new Taoiseach – IFA

Following his election as Taoiseach yesterday, Leo Varadkar has been issued with a submission from the IFA relating to the top 10 priorities for agriculture going forward.

The Dublin West TD was elected as Taoiseach by the Dail on June 14; he formally took control of his role once he was signed in by the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins.

The President of the IFA, Joe Healy, wished Varadkar luck in his new role and added that he is looking forward to working closely with him in the future.

“With the right support, our farming and food industry will continue to play a significant role in contributing to the national economy.

Viable farm incomes are critical to underpinning the important agri-food industry,” Healy said.

Brexit is a priority issue that needs to be discussed, Healy added; he has sought a meeting with the Taoiseach at the earliest possible opportunity in order to discuss the matter.

The IFA is very clear that farming and food must be at the top of the Brexit agenda, not only in Ireland but at EU level.

“We are seeking the Taoiseach’s personal intervention at the highest level in Europe to ensure that an outcome that secures the interests of this vital sector,” Healy said.

Key priorities for the new Taoiseach:
  1. Putting agri-food issues top of the EU’s Brexit agenda;
  2. A strong Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with an increased budget post-2020;
  3. Securing a fair return for farmers from the marketplace;
  4. Access to credit at a competitive rate and fair treatment of farmers in financial difficulty;
  5. Prompt payments and a simplified inspection process;
  6. Reform of the Fair Deal Scheme to remove discrimination against farm families;
  7. Restoration of funding for Areas of Natural Constraint (ANCs);
  8. Increasing market access while safeguarding farming interests in trade negotiations;
  9. Supporting sustainable growth in agriculture;
  10. Delivery of quality rural services, infrastructure and farm safety.

The IFA has called upon the new Taoiseach and his government to tackle low farm incomes, to underpin the contribution of the farming and agri-food sector to the economy – including the achievement of Foodwise 2025 targets – and to ensure the well-being of rural communities.

Varadkar must place a firm policy focus on achieving the sustainable and profitable growth of family farming, Healy said.

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach must also place a special focus on rejuvenating rural Ireland through balanced regional development and the provision of rural services, he added.