JOB losses in the dairy and meat sectors have led to calls for the Government to tackle the issues confronting the agri-food industry.
Labour Party agriculture spokesperson Sean Sherlock said there is a clear need for a task force to address the worrying decline in the dairy sector where the collapse of milk prices has left consumers and farmers wondering about the future.
While the European Commission has taken measures to aid the private storage of milk, this is currently only a tentative step and will not address the underlying issue of milk collapse.
“It is my strong view that the dairy sector in Ireland, the co-operative movement and the Irish Dairy Board need to come together,” said Mr Sherlock.
“They need to assess the future potential of dairy production in this country.
“The structures that exist presently need to be overhauled to guarantee export markets into the future.”
Mr Sherlock said there is a danger that smaller producers will be swept aside once milk quotas are abolished in 2015.
“We need to encourage our agricultural graduates to seek opportunities to engage in agribusiness and be nurtured to become agricultural entrepreneurs,” he said.
Fine Gael agriculture spokesperson Michael Creed said job losses in the dairy and meat processing sectors require a crisis action plan.
“This comes at a time when farmers are facing unprecedented difficulties with falling incomes, low prices and problems with the quality payment system, while on the other hand retailers are making massive profits,” he said.
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