Returning a viable margin to farmers must be given top priority attention according to a new “Agri-Strategy 2025″ submission from the Irish Farmers Association (IFA).
Despite the agri-food sector being clearly shown to be a key driver of Ireland’s economic recovery over the past five years, IFA president, Eddie Downey, said “very little progress” had been made in improving the overall viability and profitability of farm enterprises.
He noted, however, that IFA’s message was finally getting through to government, with the Irish farm minister, in his address to the recent IFA agm, making the fact that a sustainable strategy for the agri-food sector must be built upon viable farm enterprises.
As such IFA’s submission, delivered in response to an Irish government intitiative, sets two clear targets for the new strategy and a list of actions to achieve these targets. The targets are:
- Increased profitability at farm level.
- Increased price premium for sustainably produced Irish food.
The actions required to achieve the targets include:
- Improved knowledge transfer to farmers, through increased provision of advisory services, including one-to-one farm advisory, formal agricultural education, the discussion group format and through increased farmer participation in programmes to improve herd health and genetics.
- Legislation for the development of a wholesale price reporting system for food products throughout the supply chain, particularly in the meat sector.
- Development of further options to tackle volatility, including greater numbers of fixed price contracts, development of futures-based hedging options and enhanced taxation measures.
- Engagement by the EU Commission to tackle the major cartels that control the supply and price of major inputs, in particular fertiliser.
- Development of an Irish brand for exported agri-food products, to meet the growing demand for an identifiably differentiated product, thereby providing greater market access and opportunities for market segmentation.
In addition, the submission identifies the need for stronger regulation of the retail sector and a reduction in regulatory compliance costs.
“IFA’s submission provides a comprehensive picture of where farming is today and what measures are required to sustainably and profitability grow the sector over the next 10 years,” said Mr Downey. “I will be working over the coming months to ensure that the measures we have identified are included in the final strategy and implemented”.