Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and the Marine Matt Carrthy TD has criticised the government for their failure to secure an urgent rescue package for farmers.
He commented that the current challenges facing farmers in Ireland, in relation to both the prices and availability of inputs – while resulting from a confluence of different factors – were being compounded by ‘a lack of policy coherence and resourcing.’
Teachta Carthy said:
“Farmers have been ringing the alarm bells on dramatically rising input costs for months; but their warnings have been falling on deaf ears within government.
“The criminal invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which may now precipitate a global food shortage, is also clearly impacting on food production and those same inputs in Ireland.
“What is required is leadership and urgent action. The Minister for Agriculture must support our farming families to feed consumers over the coming seasons.
“It is apparent that Minister McConalogue’s kite-flying of a wholesale grain growing project was ill-thought-out and unhelpful. When he finally met with farm leaders this week, he brought absolutely no proposals to the table.
“No proposals as to how soil sampling could be done. No proposals to upskill and increase the number of farm advisors. No proposals as to how we would marshal the labour, machinery, or drying and storage capacity needed to deliver on a significantly increased harvest.
“At the outset of the invasion of Ukraine, Sinn Féin called on the European Commission to respond with a package for farmers’ negatively affected by sanctions on Russia.
“Recent indications that the €500 million European Crisis Reserve Fund may be deployed are to be welcomed – however, there must be recognition of the scale of challenge we are facing.
“This crisis is being felt in every Member State – even if Ireland were to receive 20% of the entire fund, it would perhaps sustain our pig sector alone until Budget 2023.
“This crisis has exposed the fundamental weakness of food security policy at both a European and domestic level. It has exposed the hollowing out of the Common Agricultural Policy, which in and of itself is clearly no longer capable of ensuring the availability of safe, high-quality, environmentally sustainable produce.
“Over the past number of decades we have the seen the proportion of the EU Budget which the Common Agricultural Policy comprises reduce dramatically – from a high of 65.5% in 1980, to just 30% in the current MFF – a position celebrated by our government.
“The full-deployment of the crisis reserve should be immediately actioned as a first and initial aid to our primary producers.
“Indications that there will be more direct supports for the pig sector and to encourage fodder production are welcome. However, recognition of the scale of this challenge will require a united European response through the provision of direct supports to farmers at a scale of multiples of the crisis reserve.
“However, in the longer-term, if we are to meet our obligations on both climate and food security; Irish political voices should be united in pressing for a greatly expanded Common Agricultural Policy funding.”