THE Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has warned it will not allow the banks to put undue pressure on farmers.
It called for adequate credit supply and competitive interest rates for the agriculture sector.
John Bryan, the new IFA president, made the calls when he held his first formal meeting with Taoiseach Brian Cowen.
He also urged the Government to defend the record of the Common Agricultural Policy and the single farm payment.
Mr Bryan told the Taoiseach the Government must insist on the maintenance of a fully-funded budget for Ireland in the upcoming negotiations. He said the single farm payment post-2013 must be directed to supporting farmers. Suggestions that Ireland might move away from the historical basis of the single payment are not on, he said, adding farmers will not tolerate any reduction in their payment.
“Farmers must continue to be rewarded for their multi-functional role of providing important non-market services, including environmental protection, landscape management and animal welfare,” he said. On the need for regulation of retail multiples, Mr Bryan said the food supply chain is broken.
“Since 1995, the farmers’ costs of producing food have increased by over 50%, and at the same time the price paid to farmers has dropped by 7%.
“The retail multiples and corporate greed are to blame and this must be addressed at national and European level,” he said.
Mr Bryan said the IFA welcomed Tánaiste Mary Coughlan’s moves to introduce a code of practice because action to rebalance the food supply chain is urgently required.
He also urged the Taoiseach to introduce the carbon tax at the same 4.4% rate for farm diesel as applies for road diesel.
The IFA leader said there is no shortage of challenges facing the farming and agri-food sector. “However there are reasons for optimism – with a growing global demand for food and an increasing population.
“Agriculture can and will contribute to Ireland’s economic recovery, but the Government must do its job and back agriculture for the future,” he said.
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