‘At national level, the major issue is the ongoing beef crisis.’

Sligo News File Online.

Patrick Kent, President, Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers Association.
Patrick Kent, President, Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers Association.

ICSA president Patrick Kent has outlined a number of key issues which must be resolved in 2015 if confidence is to return to the drystock sector.

“ICSA has been pushing for regulation of the food chain at EU level, and we recently raised this issue with Commissioner Hogan in Brussels,” said Mr. Kent.

“There are significant profits being made by some of the players in the agri-food sector, but these seem to be at the expense of the primary producer. An audit of these food chain margins would provide greater transparency on where the profits are going.

“At national level, the major issue is the ongoing beef crisis. ICSA wants to see all stakeholders honouring the commitments given at the beef roundtable in November, along with the resolution of outstanding issues around bull beef and the expansion of the Quality Assurance bonus, among others. Farmers have not yet
seen any major impact on price as a result of the roundtable forum, which has been meeting since last April,  and unless real improvements are delivered, the future for cattle farmers looks bleak.

“LPIS overclaims penalties continue to cause serious financial uncertainty for many farmers, primarily those in areas of marginal land. There is uncertainty about the possible retrospective application of penalties, which ICSA vehemently opposes, and more than 2000 appeals are still to be finalised. Farmers must get a fair
resolution of this situation as soon as possible,” said Mr. Kent.

“Similarly, there must be a fair deal for farmers in relation to hen harrier compensation, which ICSA has also raised with Commissioner Hogan. Farmers must be allowed to farm their land, and where agricultural activity is limited due to environmental concerns, appropriate compensation must be provided.”