A controversial Bord Bia sustainability programme for farmers will be delayed for for at least two months.
The food board has postponed a tender process for a service provider to the Farm Sustainability Programme for at least two months, to allow for further consultation on the programme.
Development of the proposed platform is just beginning, although there have been stakeholder consultations over the past year, said Bord Bia recently.
However, IFA President Tim Cullinan said in late April there has been no negotiations between IFA and Bord Bia on any new farm sustainability programme.
He warned: “If Bord Bia and other agencies are cooking up a scheme to impose more bureaucracy and costs on farmers, it will be rejected by IFA.”
Bord Bia has said, “Use of the Farm Sustainability Platform would be voluntary, with no cost implication for participation or penalty for those who choose not to use the platform.”
Delays to allow for further consultation were confirmed by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed in the Dáil last week.
“I have been advised by Bord Bia that the primary objective of the proposed platform is to enable the Irish agri-sector to quantify and co-ordinate the totality of sustainability activity on Irish farms, and enable the recognition and quantification of the work that is already being done by farmers through their participation in existing programmes,” he said.
He was responding to a question from Sligo-Leitrim Independent TD Marian Harkin, on what steps will be taken to ensure that the proposed Bord Bia farm sustainability platform development will not impose further demands on farmers for meeting further quality and environmentally friendly requirements.
According to Bord Bia, “It is important to note that the purpose of the platform is not to change or replace the Quality Assurance Scheme in any way, but rather it is intended to capture, encourage and communicate the totality of work at farm level across a variety of industry initiatives.”
“There are numerous national and regional programmes operating at farm level in Ireland and the proposed platform would be used as a centralised hub to record the scale of participation in these programmes.
“In this way, the Farm Sustainability platform could enable the recognition and quantification of the great work that is already being done by farmers through participation in these existing programmes.”
“The platform also could help to identify opportunities or vulnerabilities in areas of environmental importance on different types of farms and support the achievement of the targets laid out in the Climate Action Plan.
"It should allow us demonstrate the progress being made at farm level, and the scale of the commitment of the sector in playing its part in addressing the climate challenge.
“This should help to support the reputation of Ireland as a sustainable food producing nation by building robust proof points.
"The Farm Sustainability Platform would enable efficient delivery of feedback to farmers on climate measures and provide a mechanism whereby farmers can track their chosen sustainability measures, if they choose to do so.”