An IFA delegation led by IFA president Tim Cullinan met European Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and the Capital Markets Union Mairéad McGuinness to discuss key farming issues for the year ahead.

Among the issues discussed were CAP reform, input prices, the Brexit adjustment reserve, taxonomy and live exports.

“On CAP reform, we stressed to Mairéad McGuinness that the Irish Government needs to use the latitude negotiated in the agreement to do more to support productive farmers and the vulnerable sectors.

Laois IFA president Jim Holland, IFA president Tim Cullinan, honorary life membership recipient Dan Cass and Laois IFA chair John Fitzpatrick.

“In addition, member states should be allowed to use the flexibility available to them, rather than feeling pressurised to implement the targets in the EU Farm to Fork plan, which are not binding.

“We also highlighted our concern about escalating input prices on farm margins, and the need for the EU to remove anti-dumping duties that apply on fertiliser coming into the EU,” he said.

Farmers have not felt the full brunt of Brexit so far

“While the allocation to Ireland under the Brexit adjustment reserve is certainly welcome, it’s unclear within the terms and conditions how farmers will qualify.

“Farmers have not felt the full brunt of Brexit so far, but the trade deals the UK is doing and the impact this could have on Irish farmers in the period ahead is concerning,” he said.

“We emphasised the challenges posed by the removal of UK concessions through 2022, as well as concerns about Irish producers being able to secure seed potatoes from the UK.

“The importance of the classification of agricultural activities under the EU’s taxonomy plan, which Commissioner McGuinness has responsibility for, was also discussed.

“Finally, in light of the upcoming vote on live exports by the European Parliament, we stressed the strategic importance of live exports to Ireland as an island nation.”