ICSA Chief slates multi-billion euro Food Wise strategy as ‘ludicrous.’

The ten year €19 billion Food Wise 2025 projection for the Irish agri-food sector was announced in 2015 by the then Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

Launched by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Food Wise also envisages the creation of 23,000 new agri-food related jobs by 2025.

Sligo News File Online.

The President of the ICSA has said Teagasc figures “showing a likely drop of more than 10% drop in beef prices in 2017” have highlighted “how much current agriculture policies and the national strategy for expansion are out of touch with reality on the ground.”

Patrick Kent, President. ICSA.
Patrick Kent, President. ICSA.

Speaking following the release of the Teagasc Outlook for Agriculture Income in 2017, Mr. Kent said the Food Wise 2025 strategy, which he referred to as a call on beef farmers to expand production, “can now only be described as ludicrous advice.

“It simply does not make sense anymore…new policies need to be explored,” he said.

Branding the Teagasc report as “shocking in terms of the outlook for the beef sector in 2017,” he said this was “not surprising. It has been blatantly clear that this was coming down the line for beef farmers.”

Simon Coveney, Former Minister for Agriculture.
Simon Coveney,
Former Minister for Agriculture.

Figures, he said, “indicate that there are too many cattle in the country. With an additional 200,000 head of cattle for slaughter forecast for 2017, it is evident that new policies will have to be considered to address this new reality.

“Advising expansion in a loss making enterprise seems insane when it will only result in greater losses. When cattle numbers are up, prices have always gone down. The idea of cutting production in the beef sector now needs to be given serious consideration.”

Continuing, Mr. Kent said “adding insult to injury, the Teagasc figures also indicate that dairy incomes are set to hit record levels 2017. We have seen continued rescue packages for that sector while other sectors are addressed merely as an afterthought.

The figures, he added, “must be seen as a wake-up call given that none of what Teagasc has predicted for beef farmers should come as a surprise to anyone.”