Important economic role of farmers highlighted by European groups

THE important economic role farmers play in providing food and services to society has been highlighted by Copa-Cogeca, which represents European farmers and agri co-ops.

It insisted that the well-being of farmers and their families is crucial if they are to ensure that the objectives of the CAP and society’s expectations are fulfilled.

Copa president Padraig Walshe warned that having a big income gap between farmers and other sectors of society endangers all the objectives of the CAP.

“If the agricultural markets cannot ensure the well-being of farmers and their families, farmers cannot fulfil their role in maintaining a diverse, sustainable, attractive countryside and rural environment,” he said.

Mr Walshe said Copa-Cogeca fully supports high European production standards, but the markets do not allow farmers to achieve this. Farm incomes dropped by 12% last year alone.

Cogeca president Paolo Bruni said recent market failures have seriously endangered these investments. In future, the operation of the food chain must become more balanced, transparent and efficient. The functioning of co-ops and other producer organisations must also be enhanced.

Meanwhile, a decision by the European Commission to reject all tenders for the sale of skim milk powder out of intervention was described as a strong and welcome message by the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society.

ICOS president Pat McLoughlin said it is important the commission gives a strong statement to prospective purchasers of the stock that they cannot force down the price.

* The new chairman of the Irish Dairy Board is Vincent Buckley, Dairygold Co-op chairman, with Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association president, Jackie Cahill, as vice chairman. Both were elected by the board of directors yesterday.

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