Macra na Feirme has branded as "unworkable" the 53 days given by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to the Food Vision Dairy Group for developing its sustainability plan.

National president of Macra John Keane criticised the busy time of year that the plan is to be drawn up in, questioning the Department of Agriculture’s reasoning behind the decision.

According to Keane, the timing of the plan’s deadline will not provide sufficient opportunities for its members to engage with the group compiling the sectoral roadmap.

It does not provide a substantial opportunity for members to engage fully

“From the date of the first meeting next Monday 7 February, it will leave 53 days for the stakeholders to develop a plan for the future of the sector. This is unworkable,” said Keane.

“Given that the Department has decided, for whatever reason, to decide our future at the busiest time of year for our members, it does not provide a substantial opportunity for members to engage fully in Government decisions affecting their futures.

“The question has to be answered as to why this move has been made by the Department, as it demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the reality of farming,” he added.

Carbon leakage and farm succession

Keane went on to highlight Macra’s priorities for the sustainability plan, which include measures that will prevent the plan acting to increase carbon leakage in the dairy sector and a roadmap for farm succession.

“We are among the best in the world at producing dairy products and beef products and, as a result, this sustainable development plan must include a path to entry and succession.

“It must also ensure that carbon leakage does not occur as a result of decisions made in isolation,” the national president stated.