Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has said that family farms and the Irish agri-food sector must not be made bear the brunt of the current political vacuum. He made the comments in the wake of a series of constructive and detailed meetings between Sinn Féin and the IFA, ICMSA, INHFA, and the Beef Plan Movement. The party intends to hold further meetings with the ICSA, Macra na Feirme and other stakeholders over coming days.
The purpose of the meetings, which were led by Deputy Matt Carthy, was to discuss core issues within agriculture and to identify key priorities for a programme for government.
“Sinn Féin is determined to deliver a programme for government which delivers real change across Ireland and that change must include key priorities for rural Ireland and agriculture. Key to this will be protecting our family farmers.
“Successive governments have failed rural Ireland and unless we take urgent action the Irish family farm model, and the rural communities that depend on them, will reach crisis-point.
“For our part, we are committed to implementing the radical changes required to revive our agricultural sector and to give small and medium sized farms a chance to survive and flourish. A first task in government will be to establish a Commission on the Future of the Family Farm.
“We need to ensure that CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) supports the family farm, that the cartel-like beef sector is challenged through regulation and legislation, that below cost selling is banned, that farmers are rewarded for positive environmental action and that we see a change of culture within the Department of Agriculture to deliver due respect to farmers.
“Our meetings last week with stakeholders from across the sector were positive and informative. We have further groups to meet and we expect these engagements to be ongoing.
“It is Sinn Féin’s intention that the next government will heed the concerns and needs of our family farmers and rural communities and secure the policy changes required to protect their future.
“Now is the time to deliver for the people of rural Ireland and we are determined to do so.”