Speaking at the National Economic Dialogue last week, IFA president Tim Cullinan said Government policy will have to reflect the changed circumstances over the last six months.

He said the war in Ukraine had caused huge disruption and farm families were struggling with extra bills.

“Farmers are currently engulfed in an input price crisis, and they will need innovative financial supports to help preserve food supply, employment and economic activity in rural Ireland in the weeks and months ahead. While we acknowledge the pigs, tillage and fodder schemes, more will need to be done,” he said.

The IFA president said the Government’s climate policy has to incorporate economic and social sustainability.

“This must be the cornerstone of policy formation. We cannot have environmental targets without a proper understanding of the implications for economic and social sustainability. As we face economic headwinds, this principle must apply right across the economy, not just in agriculture,” he said. The Government must ensure that all the provisions in the Climate Act in relation to farming are properly taken into account when setting sectoral emissions ceilings.

The ceiling based on a 21.7% reduction will pose huge challenges. However, anything higher will do significant damage on top of the renewed Brexit uncertainty the sector faces.

Cullinan said Budget 2023 provides a real opportunity for this Government to demonstrate that they understand the real situation for Irish farmers on the ground.

“I am calling on the Government to firstly remove all unnecessary uncertainty and, at a minimum, extend all existing positive taxation measures/interventions to promote agricultural activity, asset transfer and balanced rural development for at least the next three years.”

Minister’s U-turn on fodder support scheme necessary move

IFA president Tim Cullinan said confirmation that lands classified as Category 1 land under the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) will now be eligible for the Fodder Support Scheme is a necessary development.

“These lands should never have been excluded. The minister has published the revised terms and conditions,” he said.

“This is the right thing to do. Excluding Category 1 ANC lands from the terms and conditions was a spectacular own goal,” he said.

IFA national hill farming committee chair Cailín Conneely said thousands of farmers in hill areas would have been excluded if Category 1 ANC lands were not eligible.

“The whole point of the fodder scheme is to support these same farmers.”