North Tipperary IFA chair says Tipperary beef farmers 'have to be paid realistic price'
There must be a more positive outlook for Tipperary farmers in 2020 following the hugely disappointing year of 2019, according to North Tipperary IFA chair Imelda Walsh.
Among the issues highlighted by Ms Walsh which will impact on local farming this year were beef prices, dairy certainty and the threat of Brexit.
“Tipperary beef farmers have to be paid a realistic price for their premium product. The behaviour by the factories cannot and will not be tolerated,” she said.
Ms Walsh said that the much anticipated meeting of the task force should be obliged to deal with the issues of the beef sector in a meaningful way.
“We will have to see real movement on the issues that caused so much distress to farming families last year,” she said.
The IFA chair said that there was “ no justification” for the current beef price when we are all only too well aware of the growing Chinese market due to the African swine fever that has left that market with 25 million tonnes of a protein deficit.
“The factories were certainly anxious to get approval for their factories to allow them to supply that market and the onus is now on them to return a viable price to the primary producer,” said Ms Walsh
On Brexit, she said that it had become more of a reality with the recent UK election and it was paramount that a situation didn’t arise whereby the consequences for Tipperary farmers would be any increased tariff-free access to the UK market, any reduction by the UK in import tariffs and any lowering of product standards for Mercosur or US hormoned beef.
“Brexit remains the most serious threat to our farmers in the history of our State. With €4.5bn of our food and drinks exports going to the UK, no other sector or State is as exposed in the negotiations,” said Ms Walsh.
As Tipperary dairy farmers face into the calving season in the coming weeks, Ms Walsh said that it was imperative that the shipping of our calves was managed appropriately.
The Department of Agriculture must ensure that the lairages were in place and Bord Bia must have their homework done and the markets secured, she said
“Our dairy farmers will not accept the issues that arose last year and there will be a holding to account,” warned Ms Walsh.
She also pointed out that environmental issues will be topical in 2020.
“As farmers, we very much engage in conducting our practices in an environmental friendly way. However we will not allow ourselves to be scapegoats in the whole debate. It is a nonsense to suggest reducing our herd while we are the most carbon efficient in our dairy sector and we’re in the top 5 in our beef sector in Europe. The transport sector is the main driver of Ireland’s growing emissions. A real discussion needs to happen to address the issues,” she said.
Ms Walsh said that, despite the many challenges facing us, we must remain optimistic for our farming future in the knowledge that we produce food to the highest standard and the hope that we will be paid a decent price to allow us to continue.