Last week, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine announced the establishment of the dairy forum with the responsibility to establish a sustainable development plan for the future of dairy production in Ireland.
“From the date of the first meeting next Monday, it will leave 53 days for the stakeholders to develop a plan for the future of the sector. This is unworkable,” said Macra na Feirme National President John Keane.
Macra na Feirme is adamant that this is not enough time to develop a plan for the sector. The livestock sector as a whole needs a plan that provides certainty for young farmers and new entrants into the future.
A survey of dairy farmers on the Macra National Ag Affairs committee highlighted that young progressive farmers anticipate working more than 80-85 hours a week over the next 6-8 weeks, and at the same time, the future of their family farms is being decided.
“We are a membership organisation, as such we seek input from our members. 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,” added John Keane.
Macra na Ferime’s position is that any roadmap must provide for growth in the family farm model which over 99 per cent of Irish farms are based upon.
“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,” John Keane concluded.