ICMSA cannot accept cap on dairy

Speaking following a meeting with the Minister for Agriculture, Food & Marine, the President of ICMSA, Pat McCormack, said that his association could not accept any proposal that will place an arbitrary cap on the sustainable productive capacity of Irish family dairy farms.

  Mr. McCormack said that the Minister and Government had to realise that such a policy ran the risk of irreparable damage to the main driver of Ireland’s rural economy.

  Mr. McCormack said that the Minister will have to answer why he and his Department have decided to specifically target dairy farming, the one sector of Irish farming that is economically viable.

  The ICMSA President also demanded to know why other sectors, such as aviation, appear to have a licence to continue to expand without consequence.

  “If we know one thing from history, it is that that the overall trend always trumps individual cases,” Mr. McCormack said.

  “If the Minister announces restrictions on our dairy sector as State policy, then every decision after that starts from the negative. All these temporary arrangements become ‘bedded down’ and become permanent practice. Effectively, the most dynamic farming and agri-food sector we have will be driven up a cul de sac from which we will never be able to reverse”.

  The ICMSA President said that neither the association nor farmers in general were slow to play their part in combatting climate change.

  “We’re the only sector that already has an emissions lowering plan that’s ‘up and going’. The Teagasc MACC curve and new technologies are already showing how agriculture can meet its climate commitments – and new technologies will accelerate that progress. The Government ignored the further potential in that area in the CAP Strategic Plan they submitted, and will now compound that mistake by effectively proposing caps on our most valuable production,” he said.

  Finally, Mr. McCormack said that the end of March timeframe proposed by the Minister to make decisions on this matter is unrealistic.

  “The Government is about to make a decision that will damage the single most important positive economic activity in most rural areas of Ireland.

  “Can we not at least give ourselves the time necessary to look at the question in an intelligent and logical way? The Irish Government seems determined to make a historically wrong decision anyway but why we have to make it within just eight weeks is beyond me and will be beyond every other farmer concerned,” he concluded.