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FG to work with farmers to ‘improve viability’ of dairy calf-to-beef systems

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Fine Gael has said that it “understands” the value of the “vibrant” agri-food sector and is “committed” to supporting farmers and food businesses”.

The policy party has published its manifesto, outlining their commitments, which include;

  • Publish a “successor strategy” to Foodwise 2025, providing an “ambitious” blueprint for the industry for the years ahead;
  • Establish a well-funded CAP, with farmgate schemes and a “simplified” system of implementation and inspection;
  • Develop a “flagship” agri-environment scheme under the new CAP, which is “user-friendly” for farmers;
  • Work closely with the agri-food sector to secure access to priority markets and to avail of opportunities that existing markets such as China and Japan afford the sector;
  • Carry out an economic and sustainability assessment of the EU/Mercosur trade agreement, to “inform future action on the ratification” of this deal;
  • Ensure that direct payments are “distributed fairly to active farmers”;
  • Support the proposal, as published by the European Commission, to cap basic payments further under the next CAP;
  • Establish a regulator to implement and oversee the Unfair Trading Practices Directive;
  • Establish meat market observatory, providing for more transparency along the food supply chain;
  • Focus on opening new markets and supporting the promotion of sustainable, high-quality Irish produce in premium target markets;
  • Committed to maintaining the “strongest possible” trading relationship with the UK, post-Brexit.
  • Intensify the number of trade missions and continue targeted supports in the DAFM and Bord Bia;
  • Introduce further measures that will encourage land mobility and environmentally friendly farming practices;
  • Review the operation of its succession farm partnership scheme – examine how the policy may be adjusted to support low-income livestock farmers with off-farm income.

Beef, sheep, dairy, tillage, pig, organic farmers 

  • Ensure the Beef Taskforce implements the agreement reached with stakeholders in the beef sector;
  • Develop a“new, user-friendly scheme” under the next CAP to support beef farmers, building on the BEEP and the BDGP;
  • Provide a further €85 million in targeted beef schemes in 2020, in addition to the exceptional aid negotiated for the beef sector at EU level;
  • Establish more producer organisations;
  • Continue to develop markets for live exports, encourage additional lairage capacity and a continued focus on the strongest animal welfare standards;
  • Work at EU level for the development of a Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) for Irish beef;
  • Prioritise funds for the promotion of beef in key markets through Bord Bia;
  • Invest “strategically” in the future development of the dairy sector, focusing on greater efficiency and sustainability;
  • Work with dairy farmers and other stakeholders through the Dairy Forum to consider emerging challenges and will continue to focus on developing new markets;
  • Encourage investment in renewable infrastructure on dairy farms and continue to introduce taxation measures to manage evolving issues such as market volatility;
  • Work with farmers to “improve the viability” of dairy calf-to-beef systems;
  • Build on the sheep welfare scheme under the next CAP;
  • Increase the payment per ewe under the sheep welfare scheme from €10 to €15;
  • Further investment in capital infrastructure on pig farms through future on-farm investment schemes;
  • Assist tillage farmers through on-farm investment schemes and will work with EU colleagues on the issue of fertiliser tariffs;
  • Maximise opportunities for homegrown proteins in animal feeds;
  • Deliver the 27 cross-sectoral actions set out in the Strategy for Development of Ireland’s Organic Sector, 2019-2025; 
  • Support further investment in the poultry sector, providing for upgrades in poultry facilities and further improvements in the areas of animal health and welfare. 

Climate action

  • Work towards reducing agricultural emissions by increasing carbon sequestration, improving farm efficiency, animal breeding strategies, and animal health and welfare policies and through the better use of technology;
  • Support and develop the Origin Green strategy, which is raising the profile of sustainable farming;
  • Place climate mitigation at the centre of the successor strategy to Food Wise 2025;
  • Support the ambition of the current CAP proposals to direct 40% of funds towards climate and environmental objectives, building on the environmental and climate change measures introduced under the current CAP;
  • Will implement its roadmap for climate action for the agri-food sector – to deliver the 34 actions outlined in the Government’s Climate Action Plan 2019 to tackle climate breakdown.
  • Expand programmes such as the Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP);
  • Invest in renewable energy equipment on farms;
  • Support the continuation of the Nitrates Derogation;
  • Invest strategically in programmes under the CAP that support biodiversity;
  • Complete a national hedgerow survey, in line with climate action recommendations;
  • Implement the climate adaptation plan for the agri-food and seafood sector.

Forestry

  • Over the next five years, reach and maintain a target of 8,000 hectares of new forestry per annum, the equivalent of 22 million trees every year;
  • Develop markets for harvested wood products and biofuels;
  • Publish a successor forestry programme to deliver on its afforestation objective and further invest in key infrastructure such as forest roads;
  • Roll-out a national promotional campaign on the benefits of afforestation;
  • Assess the potential of state-owned lands for afforestation;
  • Support the development of forestry through the new CAP post-2020;
  • Invest further in agroforestry, continuous cover forestry, forestry for fibre and species diversification;
  • Invest in schemes that promote recreational forestry and work with Coillte on projects such as Coillte Nature and expand the NeighbourWood Scheme;
  • Implement the MacKinnon report on the forestry licensing system, “clearing existing cases without delay”;
  • Introduce a new and improved scheme to assist owners of ash plantations infected with Chalara.
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Animal health and welfare

  • Publish a new animal welfare strategy for Ireland;
  • Work with the live export market and farmers to continue to enhance transport conditions for livestock;
  • Invest in calf feeding and housing infrastructure and ensure that the highest of animal welfare standards are maintained for dairy calves;
  • Introduce a TB 2030 Eradication strategy;
  • Work with Animal Health Ireland to develop new programmes in partnership with farmers;
  • Invest €33.5 million in rebuilding the Laboratory Network over the next 10 years.

Supports 

  • Consider any further changes needed for the Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme in consultation with farming organisations in the context of the next Rural Development Programme;
  • Grants for on-farm investment, with enhanced grant aid rates for young farmers;
  • Support and encourage farmers interested in availing of viable options for diversification;
  • Invest further in the next generation of farmers under the next CAP, encouraging generational change and land mobility to young, educated, trained farmers.

Other 

  • Committed to the social farming model;
  • Continue to support the Accelerating the Creation of Rural Nascent Start-ups (ACORNS) Programme and seek to expand the support it provides to female entrepreneurs in the agri-food industry in rural Ireland.
  • Build on supports provided to the agri-food sector to promote product diversification and innovation and to address emerging trends and demands in the agri-food industry;
  • Implement its National Policy Statement on the Bioeconomy.
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