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New government to commit to developing suckler sector supports

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Key details of an agreement on agriculture between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party have emerged.

The political parties have produced a 14-page document outlining the range of initiatives and policies, approaches and strategies that reflect their approach to farming and land use. 

Build upon current schemes

They stated that they will work with the sector to improve farm incomes and protect family farms for future generations. 

In the document, the parties said they will build upon schemes including Areas of Natural Constraint, the Beef Data and Genomics Programme, Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme, the Knowledge Transfer Scheme and the Sheep Welfare Scheme, in a way that enhances farm incomes, while contributing to climate change, biodiversity and animal welfare objectives, while recognising their significant contribution to net farm incomes.

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Beef 

The political parties said they are “fully committed” to the future of the beef sector and the work of the Beef Market Taskforce.

The parties state they will:

  • Ensure the Beef Market Taskforce implements the agreement reached with stakeholders in the beef sector;
  • Ensure “greater transparency, cooperation and fairness” in the beef industry throughout the supply chain – from farm to fork;
  • Ensure that the challenges that beef farmers have been dealing with are recognised and supported under the next CAP;
  • Encourage the establishment of more producer organisations in the beef sector, to provide farmers with the opportunity to “build strength” in the marketplace;
  • 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’
  • Acknowledge the “important and unique role” that the suckler sector plays in the beef industry and “commit to developing supports that recognise this critical role”.

Dairy:

  • 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 farms to reduce energy costs. 
  • Consider further taxation measures to manage evolving issues such as market volatility. 
  • Work with farmers to improve the viability of dairy calf-to-beef systems.
  • Support farmers who wish to add value through on-farm processing of their milk.

Sheep

  • Support the sheep sector under the next CAP, and “recognise the vital role” it plays in food production, demonstrating our commitment to maintaining farm incomes in the sheep sector;
  • Deliver on further export opportunities for the Irish sheep sector;
  • Defend the interests of the sector in trade negotiations;
  • Undertake a review of the potential demand in domestic and international markets for wool-based products. 

Pigs

  • Support pig farms through on-farm investment under the next CAP, focusing on energy efficiency, biosecurity, and animal welfare.
  • Work with stakeholders in the pig sector on opening new markets 
  • Focus on animal health in the sector, preventing emerging threats such as African Swine Fever.

Poultry

  • Support further investment in the poultry sector, providing further improvements in the areas of welfare, biosecurity and energy efficiency.

Tillage

  • Work with tillage farmers in the context of the CAP post-2020 and in the development the successor strategy to Foodwise 2025 to build growth in the sector;
  • Focus particularly on maximising potential opportunities in the organic sector, the supply of quality Irish grains to an expanding food and drinks industry, and opportunities for homegrown proteins in animal feeds;
  • Work to increase the adoption at farm-level of Teagasc recommendations for climate smart cultivation methods.
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