Local elections

Tipperary voters in urged to back those standing up for rural Ireland

ICMSA appeals to electorate ahead of polls

Tipperary Star reporter

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Tipperary voters in urged to back those standing up for rural Ireland

The president of ICMSA Pat McCormack is Tipperary voters to back those standing up for rural Ireland

The president of ICMSA has asked rural voters to support local election and EU Parliament candidates who demonstrate a real commitment to farming and rural communities.

Pat McCormack urged voters to support those with defined policies and who will act on the basis that farming and the wider food production sector it supported was part of the solution to our environmental challenges and not “a scapegoat for fears being hyped up by people who themselves have no viable answers or solutions”.

The last year has seen three major issues come to the fore at national and international level, any one of which, on their own, has the potential to shape for good or bad the very future of Irish agriculture, he said.

“But coming together, as they are, ICMSA does not exaggerate when we say that they will determine the future of Irish farming and the dependent wider rural economy and society. Brexit, CAP Post 2020 and Climate Change either taken on their own or as a package will decide whether we will have a rural economy at all,” he said.

Noting that the Irish economy continued to perform well with strong economic growth and employment levels, Mr McCormack said there was, nevertheless, a clear issue with the vulnerability of the rural economy.

“Brexit, now extended to the end of October, remains a very serious threat and is directly impacting on farmers’ incomes since the second half of 2018 - supports must be introduced immediately to address that fact,” he said.

CAP is the key EU policy to support farmers. The Commission proposal is a for a substantial reduction in the CAP. Ireland must ensure that the current CAP budget is at least maintained. The regulations surrounding CAP must be simplified and reflect the practical realities of farming in Ireland, he said.

Farmers were being unfairly targeted in the Climate Change debate by certain vested interests and Irish agriculture can play a very positive role in addressing climate change if appropriate policies were adopted, he said.

The EU and local elections present farmers and rural dwellers with an opportunity to set out their concerns to politicians, said Mr McCormack.