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SF commit to ‘take-on cartel-like’ beef processing sector

Sinn Féin has said that it is committed to family farmers and is determined to implement “radical changes” necessary to reverse the decline that has been overseen by recent governments.

“The Irish family farm is at risk. Unless urgent corrective measures and supports are provided, many farmers will be unable to remain active on their land and prospective new entrants will not be in a position to join the sector.”

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

  • Inform the European institutions that Ireland “will not ratify” the Mercosur deal and reject any trade deal that negatively impacts Irish agricultural interests;
  • Take on the “cartel-like” beef processing sector;
  • Advocate for the establishment of an EU Brexit Relief Fund to compensate Farmers and SMEs for economic damage caused by Brexit-related shock;
  • Establish a commission on the future of the family farm;
  • Works towards front-loaded uniform per hectare payments throughout the state and an upper limit payment ceiling of €60,000 per applicant;
  • During the transition period, advocate for a continuation of the full annual funding allocation “rather than the reduced budget proposed by the commission” and will advocate that the convergence process continues during this period;
  • Reform and extend the Beef Data and Genomics Scheme;
  • Provide an additional suckler cow scheme to increase the payment to €200 per cow for the first 15 cows in the herd;
  • Increase the Sheep Welfare Scheme payment to €20 per ewe;
  • Invest an additional €25 million in the Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme;
  • Support the call for an “accurate and transparent” system of price reporting for finished lambs by the Department;
  • Support reform of taxation measures to encourage new and younger farmers to remain on the land;
  • Increase the self-employed tax credits to €1,650 to bring it in line with PAYE workers;
  • Continue to support income averaging for tax assessment purposes for farmers in recognition of the price volatility;
  • Oppose proposed cuts to CAP and instead demand that the Irish Government only support an EU budget which includes increased CAP provision in real terms;
  • Ensure reasonable notice is provided for inspections and introduce a mandatory Farmers’ Rights Charter;
  • Introduce, on a trial basis, 300 spaces for an ‘Environmental Basic Income’ scheme for farmers currently on the Farm Assist Scheme to voluntarily transition towards more sustainable practises – Farmers to receive a €300 weekly payment to meet environmental targets to reduce carbon output and carbon intensity;
  • Support farmers to transition into renewable energy as an additional source of income alongside day-to-day farming production through the establishment of a co-operative development unit;
  • Support the principle of ensuring the new CAP eco-schemes apply to all farmers to ensure a level playing field;
  • Ensure equality of payments for compliant farmers at an equal rate per hectare to all to “avoid a repeat of the unfair variable” greening provisions in the last CAP;
  • Prohibiting the cultivation of genetically modified organisms in Ireland;
  • Develop a community-led agri-forestry strategy which will encourage farmers to plant in conjunction with their tillage or livestock activities;
  • Reform the forestry scheme to extend the payment period from 15 to 30 years;
  • Propose that the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine committee adopt an “all-party approach” to consult on and develop a strategy for supporting and enhancing the organic sector;
  • Ensure that farm systems that encourage carbon sequestration are promoted and “rewarded” within the CAP payment system;
  • Provide the necessary technical and financial supports to farmer producer organisations to provide for structured collectivisation by farmers in their dealings with the large processors;
  • Prevent “arbitrarily penalties” or conditions, such as the four-movement or 30- day rules, imposed on farmers by processors and supermarkets;
  • Ban below-cost selling of fresh food products by retailers;
  • Provide additional funding to the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Authority to establish a unit to investigate allegations of price-fixing and other “cartel-like” behaviour in the agri-food sector;
  • Enact its ‘Beef Price Transparency Bill 2019’. 
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