A sheep welfare scheme and a prioritisation of farming in rural areas has been called for by farm organisations eager to welcome both the new Minister for Agriculture Brian Cowen and his Super Junior Minister Pippa Hackett.
The Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA) said that the new Minister must ensure total transparency in the food chain and not let processors or retailers abuse their dominant positions.
They said that a new and improved sheep welfare scheme was also required and that a suckler-based EU protected geographical indicator was vital for the survival of that sector.
“A new REPS-type scheme is also a must. [The] ICSA is calling for a trebling of the current GLAS budget to facilitate such a scheme, given the numbers of farmers it would hope to attract.
"An annual budget of €750m, or three times the current GLAS budget, would be the minimum required,” the organisation said.
The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association was also keen to convey its message to both ministers and stressed the need for them to protect all family farm models.
Its president Colm O’Donnell said that there had “been a drive to increase farm size and the level of production which has not delivered in terms of improved income for farmers and the wider rural economy”.
He said that it was vital that no farm sector was sacrificed.
“Both Ministers should be aware of the predominance of peat soils in Offaly and will, we hope, see the immediate danger that some of the outlined proposals could have in Offaly and many other counties, especially from Donegal to Kerry,” O’Donnell said.