IFA president Tim Cullinan has raised his concerns over some of the aspects of the European Union’s ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy.
The ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy was published on Wednesday (May 20th) and is part of the European Green Deal, with an aim to “make food systems fair, healthy and environmentally friendly.”
Commenting on its release, Cullinan said that many aspects of the strategy are unrealistic and will make European farming uncompetitive.
“There needs to be a comprehensive economic impact assessment of these proposals by the EU and separately by the Irish Government and Minister Creed. He should ask Teagasc to begin this immediately,” he said.
“It is not credible for the EU to drive up production costs for European farmers while at the same time looking for low food prices. They want food produced to organic standards, but available at conventional prices.”
“It is likely that farmers will end up paying through higher costs and low prices while retailers will continue to make billions,” Cullinan stated.
He continued to say that the lack of commitment to increasing funding to farmers highlights how deeply flawed the proposal is.
“The EU wants ever-increasing standards imposed on European farmers but will do trade deals to import food from other countries which have much lower standards and do not meet EU rules,” he said.
“These EU strategies could be counterproductive as they we will drive European farmers out of business, leaving the EU dependent on these imports and threatening food security.”
The IFA stated that Irish and European farmers are already working to strict agricultural and environmental conditions, with over 50,000 Irish farmers participating in the Green Low Carbon Scheme (GLAS).
They stated that although there is far too much emphasis on ‘plant-based diets’ in the document, the programme to support the most sustainable methods of livestock production could favour Ireland’s grass-based system.
“There is a long road to travel on these strategies. The IFA made a submission in the original consultation phase and we will continue to fight those aspects of the strategies which will impact farmer livelihoods,” Cullinan concluded.
Echoing the views of Cullinan, the Irish Cattle & Sheep Association president Edmond Phelan said the strategy will not work unless a fair price is delivered to the primary producer.
“The EU cannot continuously expect the farmer to do more for less, to produce more with less, and then to compete on an uneven playing field,” he said.
Phelan said that raising the standards in the EU will not work if the continued undermining of farmers continues by importing produce from non-EU countries.
“In reality, we have to have a fundamental re-think about whether the high ideals of the Farm to Fork strategy are compatible with importing 300,000 tons of beef into the EU.”