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KEY ISSUES MUST BE RESOLVED TO BOOST CONFIDENCE IN DRYSTOCK SECTOR – ICSA

‘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.”

Senator Paschal Mooney welcomes RTÉ decision on Long Wave service.

‘Great moral victory for Irish abroad.’

Sligo News File Online.

Fianna Fáil Senator Paschal Mooney has today hailed the RTE decision to retain the Long Wave 252 service until 2017 as a ‘‘great moral victory for the Irish abroad’’.

Senator Pascal Mooney
Senator Pascal Mooney, Fianna Fail.

Senator Mooney, a member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications said, “I have constantly raised this issue and applaud the RTÉ Authority decision to extend the service until 2017.  I also welcome the decision of the Department of Foreign Affairs to work with RTÉ to commission a scientific research survey to understand the community in the UK who listen to the long wave service.  The research will be carried out next year. 

“I commend Sally Mulready of the Irish Council of State and the Northern Ireland Executive who have highlighted the need for this research,” concluded Senator Mooney.

 

ICSA: PROFITABILITY MUST BE KEY FOCUS OF FOOD STRATEGY 2025.

‘…farmers must get fair share of returns.’

Sligo News File Online. 

ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan has told the first meeting of the Food Strategy 2025 Committee that profitability must be the key focus.

“There is no point in increasing food production if the primary producers cannot make a profit,” said Mr. Phelan.

“None of these food companies would exist without farmers to supply them, and farmers must get a fair share of the returns.

“The focus on output cannot be allowed to distract from the need for farming to be viable.  That’s why ICSA believes that increased profit should be the yardstick for any strategy.  It is clear that
the current returns from beef and sheep are not sustainable and this has started to really come into focus as EU supports fall for many farmers. It is high time the entire agri-food sector woke up to
reality,” concluded Mr. Phelan.

 

 

ICSA PUSHES CASE FOR REGULATION OF FOOD CHAIN MARGINS WITH COMMISSIONER

‘…we must have transparency around how profits from key products are shared…”

ICSA met with EU Farm Commissioner Phil Hogan in Brussels today (18th December)  and pushed the case for regulation and examination of margins in the retail food chain which apply to key farm products.

ICSA President, Patrick Kent
ICSA President, Patrick Kent

“ICSA believes that we must have transparency around how the profits from key products like beef, lamb and dairy are shared between farmers, processors and retailers,” said ICSA president Patrick Kent.

“ICSA is proposing that the EU Commission needs to introduce a pan-European regulator which would have power to audit the whole retail chain and discern whether there was a fair share of margins allocated to all parts of the chain. 

“ICSA argues that the past twelve months provide ample evidence that farmers are not getting a fair share of the final retail price, in beef for instance.  We believe that this must be the business of the EU Commission given that the success of the CAP is being undermined by farmers losing money in the marketplace. “

According to Mr Kent, Commissioner Hogan was receptive to the ICSA proposals.  “The Commissioner accepts that there is a problem and acknowledges that ICSA has a point in calling for transparency around retail and processing margins.  ICSA believes that where there is abuse of margins, the Commission-appointed regulator
should have the power to impose fines.  In the first instance however, the key requirement is that the regulator would have
power to audit the margins along the retail chain at processor and retailer level.”

ICSA also raised the issue of LPIS overclaim penalties and emphasised that the penalties were very unfair.  “Farmers
are being pulled between environmental demands and agricultural requirements and it is impossible to meet both,” said Mr. Kent.

“ICSA emphasised that these penalties were almost exclusively imposed on farmers on marginal land.  It was accepted that farmers should be entitled to certainty around their applications and should not be at risk of penalties due to ever changing regulations or mapping changes.”

The ICSA delegation, consisting of president Patrick Kent, beef vice-chairman Tom Egan and general secretary Eddie Punch, also raised the problems around the hen harrier designation and the commonage GLAS plans with Commissioner Hogan. 

“The Commissioner seemed anxious to ensure that the commonage GLAS issue could be solved, especially around the contentious requirement for collective agreement,” said Mr. Kent.

In conclusion, Patrick Kent said that the meeting was useful and he looked forward to ongoing dialogue with the Commissioner
and his team. 

Closure of rural post offices averted.

‘Future of network secured.’

Sligo News File Online.

Tony McLoughlin, TD
Tony McLoughlin, TD

Amid fears upwards of 700 local post offices were set to close, Sligo-Leitrim Fine Gael TD, Tony McLoughlin has revealed the future of the services has been secured.

The Coalition it seems is proposing to establish a dedicated business development group with a mandate to “examine opportunities to deliver more government and commercial business through  our post offices.”

McLoughlin says this has come about as a result of a Government review of the post office network announced earlier in the year.

He describes the seeming bold new future now being mapped for the service as the Government “moving towards making our post offices the front office of government.”

The business group, he states, will seek ways to increase the level of government and commercial business going through the post office network.

‘Savage assault’ on member of ICSA National Executive.

Warning on buying goods through advertisements.

Sligo News File Online.

ICSA Leinster vice-president Joe O’Toole has warned farmers to be vigilant when responding to sales advertisements.

“We have recently received a disturbing report of a savage assault on a member of our national executive who had responded to an advertisement of a jeep for sale. He was given directions to a particular location which turned out to be a cul-de-sac, and he and his girlfriend were viciously attacked when they arrived there. He ended up in hospital, and it was only by pure luck that no
money was taken,” said Mr. O’Toole.

“Reports from around the country suggest that this may not
be an isolated incident, and people need to be vigilant.”

“Obviously these are matters for the Gardaí, but ICSA is urging people to take every precaution in such situations. We would advise that people only arrange to view or pay for goods in a safe, public
location and never go alone. If you have any suspicions, report them to Gardaí.”

MEAT INDUSTRY IRELAND COMPLETE DISREGARD FOR ROUNDTABLE PROCESS – ICSA

‘…processors have no intention of abiding by recent agreement.’

Sligo News File Online.

ICSA Beef Chairman, Edmond Phelan
ICSA Beef Chairman, Edmond Phelan

ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan has accused Meat Industry Ireland of completely disregarding the recent roundtable agreement.

“It seems quite clear that meat processors have no intention of abiding by the recent agreement. They are ignoring the commitment to end dual pricing and are showing total disregard for the roundtable process,” said Mr. Phelan.

“Once again the factories are showing their clear disdain for the primary producer, the farmer on whom their business depends. How can farmers be expected to have any confidence in this process when factories obviously don’t take it seriously?”

“Factories have also been dragging their feet on expanding the Quality Assured bonus to include all steers and heifers and to date there has been no engagement with farmers on this.”

Splash up a storm in aid of North West Hospice this Christmas Season!

Three annual swims in County Sligo in coming weeks.

Sligo News File Online.

North West HospiceWhy not splash up a storm and help raise funds for North West Hospice this festive season?  Three annual swims will take place in CountySligo in the coming weeks: Christmas Day Swims at Mullaghmore and Lough Arrow and a New Year’s Day Swim at RossesPoint.  Another swim also takes place this year in Lake Gulladoo, Carrigallen, Co. Leitrim in aid of North West Hospice. All proceeds from each swim go to North West Hospice and these funds go directly towards the provision of essential palliative care services for people living with life-limiting illness in the North West region.

Lough Arrow Christmas Day Swim.
Time: 1pm.
Location: Flynn’s Pier, Lough Arrow.
Contact: Mary Moran on (086) 8733485
Sponsor cards: Available from Mary Moran.
Additional details: Hot whiskey, mulled wine and soft drinks will be served alongside a DJ spinning tunes.

Mullaghmore Christmas Day Swim.
Time: 12 noon.
Location: The Pier, Mullaghmore.
Contact: Bridie & Michael Watters (087) 2531878
Sponsor cards: Available from Michael Watters
Additional details:  Hot whiskeys will be served and fancy dress is encouraged!

Lake Gulladoo Christmas Day Swim.
Time: 12.30pm.
Location: Lake Gulldaoo, Carrigallen, Co. Leitrim
Contact: Cathríona MacManus (086)3136264
Sponsor cards: Donations can be made on the day or sponsorship cards are available from Cathríona or North West Hospice
Additional details: Soup & refreshments on the day, fancy dress is welcomed!

Rosses Point New Year’s Day Swim
Time: 2.00pm.
Location: The Yacht Club, RossesPoint.
Contact: Winifred McDermott (087) 6335450 or North West Hospice (071) 9143317
Sponsor cards: Donations can be made on the day or sponsorship cards are available from North West Hospice (071) 9143317
Additional details: Soup and mulled wine will be served up on the day.

Speaking about the festive Swims, Bernadette McGarvey, Community Relations Manager at North West Hospice, said “We are sincerely grateful to everyone involved in organising and participating in these annual swims in aid of North West Hospice. These Swims give people the chance to have a really fun afternoon with friends and family while raising vital funds for our local hospice. 

“To maintain our current level of service, we must raise €1 million every year through fundraising events, voluntary contributions, donations and bequests.  This is a huge challenge, but it is one we can meet through the continued support and generosity of individuals and groups in our community like all of those involved with these annual swims. ”

North West Hospice provides specialist care with compassion for those living with life-limiting illness and their families, in Sligo, Leitrim, South Donegal and West Cavan. 

Further info: Bernadette McGarvey, North West Hospice
 (071) 9143317 / (087) 9030887 / bernadette@northwesthospice.ie