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ICSA SETS OUT CASE FOR PROTECTING FAMILY SIZED CATTLE, SHEEP, AND TILLAGE FARMS AS CAP NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE

‘If the EU wants a greener CAP, then it must reward the farmer who is less intensive and wants to participate in a worthwhile agri-environment scheme’

 Sligo News File

ICSA president Dermot Kelleher has said family sized cattle, sheep or tillage farms who are desperately dependent on CAP supports must be protected as CAP negotiations continue. “Payments must be funnelled towards cattle, sheep, and tillage farmers – most of whom are not viable – otherwise, we are sending the signal that everybody who wants to farm must farm dairy,” he said.

Mr Kelleher was speaking at the 9th June virtual sitting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food, and the Marine.

“The reality is that the CAP budget is being steadily eroded by inflation and that farmers are being asked to do more and more with less and less. However, if the EU wants a greener CAP, then it must reward the farmer who is less intensive and wants to participate in a worthwhile agri-environment scheme. To this end, ICSA has proposed that a scheme should have the potential to pay up to €15,000.”

On convergence Mr Kelleher said, “It looks like the final outcome will be that the lowest payment will have to reach 85% of the average by 2026, which is a noble aspiration, except for the fact that it takes from already strapped suckler, sheep and beef farmers. The solution to this proposed by the Commissioner for Agriculture is the CRISS. ICSA favours insulating smaller and medium sized farmers from convergence cuts and we would like to see a system that allocates more support for the first 40 hectares.

However, the CRISS is insufficient, and it is not funded. Instead, it takes a linear cut from all farmers which is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Department of Agriculture modelling suggests that if you cut all farmers by €54 million you can give an extra €20/ hectare on the first 30 hectares. This will not make any worthwhile difference.”

Mr Kelleher questioned the fairness of very profitable dairy farms that are less dependent on CAP subsidies getting more than suckler or sheep farmers on a per hectare basis. “According to the 2019 Teagasc National Farm Survey, the average payment from Pillar 1 on a dairy farm was €280/ha. A suckler farm got €243. A beef farm got €299. A sheep farm got €245. A tillage farm got €322/ha.”

“ICSA is clear that payments should be capped at €60,000. We believe that suckler, sheep, beef and tillage farmers should not be cut per hectare and that they should be supported much more through payments linked to their enterprise and also through agri-environment schemes that are targeted at them.”

But he said we also must be realistic and say that the CAP budget is totally inadequate to achieve this, and it is therefore vital that:

  1.  The state fully fulfils its obligations to co-finance the      rural development programme.
  2.   That the programme for government  commitment  to      €1.5 billion in carbon taxes is delivered and is                           additional to the co-financing required for the rural           development programme.
  3.    That every possible euro under the Covid and Brexit           funds is  delivered and targeted at beef and sheep               farmers in particular.
  4.     That the CAP is no longer used to deliver six-figure        sums to factory owned feedlots.

“In terms of the EU negotiations, we think there is still scope to look for some extra money for farmers from the NGEU funds and the Brexit fund. We also think that the message must be sent back to Brussels that asking farmers to do more and more on the green agenda for less and less money cannot be sustained.”

Drop in number of gardai assigned to Sligo-Leitrim and Mayo

Reduction during last year

Sligo News File

The Minister for Justice has confirmed that garda numbers have reduced in Sligo-Leitrim and Mayo.

Heather Humphreys, Minister for Justice

Heather Humphreys told TD’s that in the last twelve months, April 2020 to 2021, the force in Sligo-Leitrim has decreased from 318 to 302 while in the same period the number of gardai in the Mayo division is down from 348 to 337.

Meanwhile, Sligo councillor Marie Casserly has submitted a motion for the next meeting of the county council asking that the authority seek an update from the Office of Public Works and Garda CAO Joe Nugent “on how the  refurbishment of Sligo Garda Station complies with part M of the Building Regulations Access and use and whether a Disabled Access Certificate has or will be issued at the completion of the works.”

Plans for the construction of a repeatedly promised new garda station for Sligo at Caltragh have been shelved. As well, the town, capital of the north west, has been stripped of its regional headquarter status. Fine Gael justice minister, Helen McEntee last year denied the action was a political decision.

 

Concern Enniscrone again fails to secure Blue Flag

Resort a Wild Atlantic Way discovery point

Sligo News File

Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council, Councillor Dara Mulvey has endorsed the government’s ‘Be Summer Ready’ campaign. However, there is surprise and concern that Enniscrone has again failed to secure the Blue Flag for its beach and waters.

Is there a reason why for several years now the flag hasn’t been awarded to the West Sligo resort?  The Green Coast Award also hasn’t been restored to the place.

The village is located on the route of the heavily promoted Wild Atlantic Way, and annually seeks to attract visitors on an increasing scale from across the country and abroad. Some funding on such as a plaza and other improvements is proposed. Yet, attainable  widely recognised awards attesting to safety and access for beach users are absent from the scene.

This year, Rosses Point is reportedly the only beach singled out for the awards. What’s with the rest, including Enniscrone, that they haven’t been included in the programme?

More and more, families want to be satisfied that beaches of places they’re holidaying in or visiting are up to the highest standard and that the waters are consistently clean and safe, especially for their children. This is what the presence of the Blue Flag and Green Coast awards are taken to vouch for. It escapes understanding, then, that for years in a row they haven’t been on display in Enniscrone.   

Surely, as an important value in the promotion and continuing growth of the country’s crucial tourism industry, and the resort itself, people are owed an explanation for the long ongoing absence of the resort from the awards list.

CAP talks – ‘Huge fear Minister is at sea’: McGrath

‘Farm organizations hugely concerned’

Sligo News File

“I cannot emphasise enough the problems for the agriculture sector in this country,” said Deputy Mattie McGrath during Leader’s Question in the Dail on Thursday.

Deputy Mattie McGrath, TD

 

Addressing the Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, he said: “Everybody – even city people – is only a generation away from this sector. The Tánaiste’s family farm is down in Dungarvan.

“The importance of the talks at present under CAP is vital and there is a huge fear out there that the Minister, Deputy McConalogue, is at sea.

“We have been devastated in fisheries with Brexit. We cannot allow the big factory farmers and the conglomerates to dictate policy.

“The Tánaiste stated earlier in a reply that family farms are vital. Family farms are barely hanging on and they need a fair deal under this CAP. What is happening in other European countries seems to be a whole lot different from what is happening here.

“I met with the Irish Farmers Association, IFA, and other farm organisations. They are hugely concerned about the convergence, about the issues involved in CAP, and that the Minister may have stopped the talks. The Minister needs to be on top of his game here, and the Department too. We need a good strong position on CAP for Irish farmers.

Varadkar said the importance of the outcome of the talks “cannot be underestimated for rural Ireland and for our farmers and our food industry. They are ongoing and I am limited in what I can say.

“Perhaps the best thing might be, if he is available, is for the Minister to come before the House when we resume in a few days’ time and give a briefing and take questions on it.”

‘Beef barons and sheiks granted hundreds of thousands in CAP payments while most farmers struggle to survive’: TD

‘Government adopting a position in CAP talks that runs against the interests of the majority of farmers’

Sligo News File

The government is refusing to take a position on the Common Agriculture Policy which would ensure bigger payments to Irish farms, a TD has claimed

Matt Carty TD, Sinn Fein

 

During Thursday’s Leaders Questions in the Dail, Deputy Matt Carthy said a flat rate payment per hectare process known as convergence to which most EU countries have moved “would benefit the majority of farmers in Ireland.

“A total of 60% of Irish farms would get more.”

He asked the Tanaiste Leo Varadkar: “Why is the Government adopting a position in the CAP talks that runs against the interests of the majority of farmers?

“Why is it fighting against a front-loaded payment that would benefit smaller farmers?

“Why is it resisting an upper payment limit that would stop the obscenities whereby beef barons and sheiks receive hundreds of thousands of euro each year in CAP payments while most farmers struggle to survive?”

Carty said that when he was in opposition, the minister McConologue “demanded increased fairness even during the transition period. In power, he is delaying the entire CAP process and fighting against any measure of fairness.

“Whose interests is the Government serving in these CAP talks?” he pressed.

Varadkar: “The Government serves the interests of Irish farmers and Irish farm families in these talks and of course this is what we will do. We want to see more food production. We want to see farm income rise. We also want to make sure we have a Common Agriculture Policy that aligns with our climate objectives, which is crucial too.

“Currently, the Minister, Deputy McConalogue, is engaged in the negotiations and I would not like to comment on them in too much detail. The Deputy knows there has been convergence in recent years and this is the direction of travel. It does have consequences and there are winners and losers, and the losers are not all sheiks and beef barons. They are also family farms.

“There are parts of the country that may benefit and there are parts that will lose out. We have to look at all of these in the round,” he added

Safety of hospitality sector workers questioned by TD

‘Who will police the guidelines’

Sligo News File

A TD has raised concerns about the safety of staff as the hospitality sector throws open its doors to the public.

Independent TD Michael Collins

In comments directed to the Tanaiste Dr. Varadkar, in the Dail  on Thursday Deputy Mick Barry said:

“I was coming into this place this morning and listening to the radio news. The invitation was being put out for 43-year-olds to contact the HSE about arranging vaccination. The next item was about hospitality. It struck me that a majority – probably a vast majority – of people going back to work in hospitality are under the age of 43 and will go back to work unvaccinated. This is at a time the virus is in the community, there is a new variant, which is significantly more infectious, and they are operating on the basis of a lesser social distancing rule now.”

Referencing statements made by a minister of state about Failte Ireland guidelines, he asked Varadkar: “Who will police the guidelines? Who will be on the job to ensure health and safety for our hospitality workers?”

 

 

We cannot expect Irish farmers to save the planet and bankrupt themselves: ICSA 

ICSA meeting with Taoiseach and senior government ministers

‘It is high time for Irish farming to be treated fairly in the climate debate’

Sligo News File 

ICSA president Dermot Kelleher has said that the Climate Bill will be completely futile if there is not active engagement with the farming community. Speaking today at a meeting with An Taoiseach, Michéal Martin, and other senior government ministers, the ICSA president said farmers are willing to do more but they need more support if this is to be realised.

“We cannot expect Irish farmers to save the planet and bankrupt themselves.” 

Dermot Kelleher, president, Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers Association

“We need more funding, in addition to CAP funding, to help improve biodiversity, decrease emissions, and improve carbon sinks. Farmers will plant more hedges, and keep more habitats, but it cannot happen if the farm is not viable.”

Mr Kelleher strongly argued that we also must be sensible in how we deal with agriculture in Ireland. “ICSA believes the relentless shaming and blaming of Irish farming for everything that is wrong in the world must be challenged at every opportunity. It is high time for Irish farming to be treated fairly in the climate debate.”

He also argued that more consideration needs to be given to Ireland’s national interests. “Germany will not sacrifice its car industry or close down its coal industry and we should – likewise – stand up for our most important indigenous sector.”  

“It’s all very well having five-year targets as proposed in the Climate Bill. There is no point in pretending to care about climate change if we implement a policy of carbon leakage. It makes no sense to outsource our livestock farming systems to Brazil or Australia.”

Mr Kelleher, however, emphasised that farmers are willing to their fair share. “Farmers have and continue to improve and adapt their systems of farming, and this is something that needs to be recognised and encouraged. But we also need all government policies to align with this overall goal. For too long, there has been talk but no decisions and no support for farm based renewable energies in terms of biogas, solar and biofuels. ICSA wants to see government decisions to enable us to hit 20% renewable gas by 2030, we want to see E10 in fuel instead of E5 and we want it to be economically viable for cattle sheds to have solar panels supplying the grid.”

ICSA is asking that we all carefully consider and protect what is in our vital national interest. We must not allow the cynical and massively funded anti-livestock narrative to drown out all reasonable debate.

 

Mr Kelleher also made a strong case that cattle, sheep, and tillage farmers in particular, needed more support under the CAP to help deliver national and EU objectives. “ICSA is very concerned that the impact of convergence cuts will be felt most severely by cattle and sheep farmers. These are the sectors that are most dependent on CAP payments.

 

Twenty years ago, CAP payments were very much targeted at suckler, beef, sheep, and tillage farmers but over the years these sectors have seen their payments cut over and over again. This must be faced up to now in the current CAP reform.” 

Ballina’s long wait for industrial development park

Planning permission for designated site ‘allowed to lapse’

Sligo News File

The Dail has heard that plans for a Ballina industrial park have been forgotten about for decades past.

Dara Calleary, TD, Ballina

Town-based Fianna Fail deputy Dara Calleary, who described himself as “a huge fan of IDA Ireland” complained that the project has been under way for almost 30 years “and we are really no further on.”

He said that even the planning permission for the long proposed development was allowed to lapse in recent years.

 Inviting the Minister “to come down to see the site,” he asked him if he would engage with the IDA “on potentially building an advanced solution on it, similar to what was built in Castlebar, which was essential to attracting the Meissner investment?”

Responding, junior minister at the Department of Trade and Enterprise, Robert Troy said the IDA owned approximately 10.6 ha of industrial zoned land on the town’s Sligo road which had been “master planned by the agency to demonstrate its potential to investors.”

He said the agency “has appointed an engineering firm to undertake detailed technical due diligence, review the master plan design and submit a stage one infrastructure planning application to Mayo County Council,” which it anticipated “will be ready for submission in the third quarter of 2021, subject to ongoing review.”

Adding that the agency will work with the county council “to ensure that the infrastructural development will be complementary to the wider development plans for Ballina, and that the site, once developed, “will be positioned and marketed as a suitable location for indigenous and foreign direct investment developments.”