IFA outlines priorities to Leo Varadkar

One of the first submissions to new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar following his election yesterday was a 10-point priority list for agriculture from the Irish Farmers Association (IFA).

IFA president Joe Healy wished the new Taoiseach success in the role and said he is looking forward to working closely with him in the future.

“With the right support, our farming and food industry will continue to play a significant role in contributing to the national economy. Viable farm incomes are critical to underpinning the important agri-food industry,” he said.

Mr Healy said he has sought a meeting with the Taoiseach at the earliest possible opportunity to have a detailed discussion on Brexit — “the most significant threat facing farming and the food sector in the history of the State”.

“We are seeking the Taoiseach’s personal intervention at the highest level in Europe to ensure that an outcome is delivered to secure the interests of this vital sector,” he said.

The IFA’s listed priorities are geared towards tackling low farm incomes, underpinning the contribution of the farming and agri-food sector to the economy, including the achievement of Foodwise 2025 targets, and ensuring the well-being of rural communities.

Mr Healy said the Taoiseach must place a firm policy focus on achieving the sustainable and profitable growth of family farming and rejuvenating rural Ireland through balanced regional development and the provision of services.

The IFA also wants a strong Common Agricultural Policy with an increased budget post-2020 to ensure improved farm incomes and a strong, sustainable and competitive agriculture for the benefit of farmers and consumers.

Securing a fair return for farmers from the marketplace, access to credit at a competitive rate, and fair treatment of farmers in financial difficulties are other listed priorities.

Prompt farm scheme payments and a simplified inspection process, reform of the Fair Deal Scheme to remove discrimination against family farms, and the restoration of funding for Areas of Natural Constraint are also sought.

Increased market access for the agri-food sector, while safeguarding farming interests in trade negotiations, support for sustainable growth in agriculture, and a re-balancing of power in the food supply chain to deliver a viable price for farmers are other IFA priorities, as is funding for flood protection measures.

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