What is the IFA looking for from the next government?

With the 2020 General Election fast approaching, a number of farm organisations have now revealed their election submissions and manifestos, outlining what they see as the main issues to be tackled by any future government.

Below are some of the key points from the election document from the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) – whose annual general meeting (AGM) is being held today, Monday, January 27 and tomorrow, Tuesday, January 28.

The IFA’s submission is divided into several sections, covering a number of areas, including: the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); Brexit; EU trade policy; the environment and climate action; and retailers. Some of the main points of the document are summarised below.

CAP

The association is formally calling for the CAP Budget to be increased to take account of inflation, and to compensate farmers for environmental requirements. It is also calling for the next government to provide “the maximum permissible level of national co-financing of schemes in the new CAP”.

In terms of the transition from the current CAP to the next, the IFA argues that payments should be maintained at current levels during the transition period, and that schemes are fully funded. Moreover, the association is calling for an environmental scheme that will recognise agricultural ‘carbon sinks’.

On CAP reform proposals, the IFA proposes the following points, among others:

  • No above average per-hectare payment cuts, with upward-only adjustment, with a full analysis of the effects of convergence;
  • The ‘genuine farmer’ concept should be “fully explored to target payments towards active farmers”;
  • Introducing more coupled payments “must be considered”;
  • Capping should take account of situations where more than one income is earned from the farm, and leased-in entitlements should be excluded from the calculation (family employment and formal partnerships should be factored in);
  • Eco-schemes should not involve additional farmer costs;
  • Areas of natural constraints (ANCs) should be counted as the 40% environmental requirements for funding;
  • All farmers must get 70% of their Basic Payments Scheme (BPS) payments by mid-October, and farmers are to be compensated to cover costs from additional requirements.

Brexit and EU trade

On Brexit, the IFA is calling for a second Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme to cover beef price losses since May 2019. It is also calling for the €25 million underspend in the original scheme to be paid out to farmers.

The association is also asking for further compensations for farmers in affected sectors during the coming transition period for trade negotiations between the EU and UK.

In the area of trade and the Mercosur trade deal, the IFA is insisting that the Government block the agricultural concessions in the EU-Mercosur trade agreement – as well as a ban on existing South American beef imports.

Environment, Climate Action and the bioeconomy

The IFA’s election submission made a raft of points on the issues of the environment and climate action.

These include:

  • All future climate and environmental legislation should be subject to impact assessment;
  • The continuation of current nitrates derogation;
  • Schemes and funding to improve soil fertility;
  • Climate metrics should reflect the accurate impact of methane on the climate;
  • All carbon sinks – including those from hedgerows and permanent pastures – should be taken account of in climate change mitigation policies;
  • Government policies that support deployment of renewable technologies;
  • The development of ‘energy co-ops’;
  • The “immediate, mandatory” introduction of E10 petrol.

Retailers

The IFA is calling on the the next government to “immediately create” an independent food retail regulator, which would transpose the EU directive on unfair trading practices (UTPs) into Irish law. There is also a demand for the introduction of ‘country of origin’ legislation for fresh meat to be properly enforced.

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