Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD has called on the Minister for Agriculture to clarify what measures will be made available to farmers affected by the fallout from Brexit.
Teachta Carthy said:
“That the only Agriculture funding announced post Brexit has been a €100 million package to meat factories and other processors is very telling of the governments’ misplaced priorities.
“The government have announced that €100 million will be made available to Meat Factories and other processors through the Capital Investment Scheme for the Processing and Marketing of Agricultural Products. Unfortunately, cabinet failed to use the opportunity of that funding to implement necessary conditions on recipients.
“There will be no obligation on the meat factories to improve the working conditions in plants; there will be no obligation to undo the corporate structures of the factories which are renowned for their secrecy and tax avoiding elements. Crucially there will be no obligation on meat factories to act in a fairer manner with the source of their product – Ireland’s family farmers.
“Yet while this funding has been made available for the processing sector there have been no new measures announced post-Brexit for farmers. It appears that the government have adopted a wait-and-see approach to the most important aspect of food production.
“Before Christmas at the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee, Minister McConalogue confirmed that the Covid supports included in Budget 2021 were effectively an extension of existing programmes re-packaged.
“As the full cost and impact of Brexit becomes apparent, it is imperative that Minister outlines exactly what supports he intends to make available to farmers – particularly those vulnerable sectors such as suckler beef farmers.
“Sinn Féin’s budget proposals would have created a new scheme giving suckler farmers up to €300 per cow – this is the type of policy that would have a real and positive impact on both farmers pockets and the environment.
“The Minister needs to make certain that 2021 is the year in which our family farmers are prioritised. Special funding schemes for the Meat Processing Industry that are not contingent on the much need reforms of that sector will simply reinforce the view that the Government’s agriculture priorities are all wrong.
“Minister McConalogue can begin by outlining what Brexit supports will be available to farmers in the time ahead.”