Wicklow livestock farmer Angus Woods is running for the position of IFA president in the upcoming election.
Launching his campaign, the organisation’s national livestock committee chairman said that the risks to the future of Irish farming and rural Ireland have “never been so great”.
“A no-deal Brexit, further reform of the CAP and the threat to CAP-supported schemes, the Mercosur trade deal and the market dysfunction at home and in Europe are the most significant threats to face Irish farmers in generations.”
Woods said that Ireland’s dependence on export markets and the lack of transparency in market and “exploitation by buyers at home” have damaged confidence and undermined incomes of farm families.
He said that the problems in the beef sector have been undermining livestock incomes and the industry for decades.
“As livestock chairman of the IFA, I succeeded in delivering on a range of critical issues including an emergency aid package of over €100m under the BEAM scheme and €20million of additional money for a suckler cow support scheme, plus a range of market transparency, carcass trim and grading measures.”
“These included the publication of the Veterinary Inspectors Handbook and increased accuracy in grading.”
“On illegal trimming, I forced the Dept of Agriculture to name those factories that were engaged in illegal trimming and pay compensation to the farmers affected.”
“I will be campaigning for more aid funding to protect farm incomes. We will need further financial aid, including a ‘BEAM Two’ scheme.”
“Farm families need immediate income supports and protections and I will see to it that IFA campaigns to secure this funding and other protections to shield farming from the potentially devasting scenarios we are facing at home and internationally.”
“However, we cannot continue rolling from crisis to crisis. He stressed that long-term solutions that deliver visibility and transparency around pricing and margins, and a fair sharing of the retail price and market risk among retailers, processors and farmers are needed.
Exceptional and Extraordinary Aid
Mr. Woods said Brexit and a probable “no-deal” crash-out of the UK from Europe could trigger the greatest economic upheaval and crisis in farm incomes since the economic war of the 1930s.
“As IFA President, I will ensure that IFA fights the case for exceptional and extraordinary support for Irish agriculture during the turmoil of Brexit.”
“As IFA Leader, I will ensure that farm families depending on milk get a fair price and have an investment environment which allows them to reinvest and progress without being hamstrung by crazy restrictions on nitrates or any other convenient scapegoating of farmers in the name of environmental sustainability.”
He said that sheep farmers should have opportunities to get “decent prices” and that he will defend the sheep sector and demand a major enhancement of the sheep welfare scheme and the payment of €30/ewe on hill and lowland sheep.
If elected, Woods said that he would demand guaranteed minimum inclusion of native grains in Ireland's feed compounds. “We also must deny the right to describe whiskeys and beers as ‘Irish’ unless they are using native Irish grains and malts.”
He said that he expects that emergency supports for grain farmers will be necessary in parts of the country this year.
“Mercosur is a ‘lose-lose’ deal, which will damage European and Irish farming and commit further damage on our environment through the wanton destruction of tropical rainforests which are among the Earth’s most important carbon reservoirs.”
“As IFA President, I will be a champion for the hard work and determination of IFA’s Farm Family Committee, in particular, their work on the Fair Deal Scheme,” he concluded.
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