Fine Gael has pledged to protect farmers in its election manifesto, with the party saying the safeguarding of farm incomes against Brexit will be a key priority under a Fine Gael Government.
It has promised to establish a new regulator to police unfair trading practices in business-to-business relationships in the agricultural and food supply chain.
It has also said that it will “negotiate a strong Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget with a particular emphasis on supporting younger farmers”.
On the beef sector, Fine Gael says it will fully support the beef sector through the implementation of the beef sector agreement, which was agreed in September last year after weeks of protests outside factory gates.
On Tuesday Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney and Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, set out Fine Gael’s plans for Irish farming at an event in Corrin Mart, Fermoy, Co Cork.
Speaking at the launch, An Taoiseach said: “We know our farmers and our agri food sector will the hardest hit by Brexit. We negotiated the best possible Brexit deal for Ireland to protect Ireland from a catastrophic no deal scenario.
“Brexit isn’t finished, it’s only at half time. The next phase – negotiating a trade deal – will be absolutely crucial for farmers. I’m asking farmers to stick with the Fine Gael team – with our track record and relationships in Europe – to deliver that deal.
“Securing a new CAP budget that delivers for Irish farmers will also be vital. Fine Gael negotiated €12bn for Irish farmers in the last CAP. We will stand up for Irish farmers and safeguard incomes during the crucial negotiation period ahead,” he said.
Tánaiste Coveney said that there is so much at stake for the Irish agri food industry as the negotiations on the future trade relationship between the EU and the UK steps up a gear.
“As the only party with a real plan for farmers, we strongly protect Irish interests during these negotiations and will work to safeguard farm incomes against the threat posed by Brexit.
“We will do this through our hard Brexit farm package, as well as a market diversification plan aimed at opening up new markets for our products.
“Under Fine Gael, we have already delivered the opening of the Chinese market for Irish beef exports, the Japan market for sheepmeat exports and other market access in countries such as Quatar, Kuwait and Ukraine,” he said.
Creed on the regulator
Commenting on Fine Gael’s plans to set up a new regulator to police unfair trading practices, Minister Creed said: “It was under my direction that a consultation took place on this area and I am delighted to announce that we will establish a regulator to oversee the implementation of the Unfair Trading Practices directive.
“This regulator will be given real and concrete powers to act on unfair trading practices, including payments later than 30 days for perishable goods, payments later than 60 days for other agri food products, short notice cancellations and unilateral contract changes.”
“In addition, we will also develop the successor strategy to Foodwise 2025, which brought exports to an all-time high of €14.5bn in 2019. Income sustainability for farmers and environmental sustainability will be at its heart.
“And we will fully support the beef sector through the implementation of the beef sector agreement,” he said.
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