Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has said that Fine Gael has run out of ideas for the Irish agriculture sector and for rural communities.
Speaking in response to the Fine Gael agriculture ‘proposals’ this week McGuinness said:
“Fine Gael are promising more of the same at a time when many farmers fear for their future and require a radical new approach from government.
“The Fine Gael proposals offer no new solutions despite the fact that many family farmers are facing unprecedented challenges. They do not plan to seek fundamental reform of the CAP to make it fairer or to bring in any new financial supports to protect the family farm model.
“Sinn Fein in contrast, will seek to end all direct payments to factory feedlots in the next CAP and to limit direct payments to maximum of €60,000 in order to ensure an increased distribution to the majority of family farms.
“Beef farmers need emergency measures that recognise the extremity of the situation many of them face. In the first instance Sinn Féin will provide €200 per cow for the first 15 cows to these farmers. Sheep farmers require higher ewe payments while additional funding in the ANC Scheme most be provided and delivered to those farmers operating in the areas of highest constraint.
“Ultimately, farmers need a fair price for their produce. Only Sinn Fein is committed to tackling the strangle-hold of the processing and retailing sectors that results in farmers producing at a loss while the profits from their labours go to these conglomerates.
“Fine Gael make promises to cut taxes for higher income earners but ignore that farmers need tax relief and greater tax flexibility that reflects the realities of their sector. They plan to increase the pension age to 68 when we should be encouraging generational renewal, Sinn Féin are committed to allowing those who wish to be able to retire at 65.
“Farmers still have reason to be fearful of Brexit and developments at EU level. It is entirely disingenuous of Leo Varadkar to speak of protecting the CAP budget. It was his actions in committing Ireland to paying increased contributions to the EU budget without securing any commitment regarding how that money would be spent that allowed the commission to propose an increased EU budget but with a reduced CAP. Sinn Féin will not support any European budget that does not include increased CAP provision.
“Fine Gael will support any EU trade deal regardless of its implications for Irish agriculture. That they haven’t yet rejected the Mercosur trade deal is deeply worrying. Sinn Féin will not support any trade deal that fails to protect the interests of our economy, the environment and our most important indigenous sector.
“On all of these issues the positions of Fine Gael reflect those of Fianna Fáil. They represent ‘more of the same’ when radical reform is required. Sinn Féin, in government, will immediately establish a Commission of the future of the Irish Family Farm comprising of independent experts, farming representatives and statutory agencies who will be tasked with producing a comprehensive set of proposals aimed at saving our family farm network which will be implemented by a Sinn Féin Minister for Agriculture”.