ICMSA warns Leo in against making farmers environmental ‘whipping boys’

Donal O'Regan

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Donal O'Regan

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donal.oregan@limerickleader.ie

ICMSA warns Leo in against making farmers environmental ‘whipping boys’

Pat MccCormack, ICMSA, presents Leo Varadkar with a guide to the key points for farmers in this election

ICMSA says it intenda having a copy of its Guide to General Election 2020 on the way to every candidate standing in a rural constituency and association officer within days. 

ICMSA president Pat McCormack met Leo Varadkar in Adare on Tuesday, handed him the document which is subtitled ‘The questions that farmers need answered’ and urged him to note carefully the key issues identified. It is divided into easy-to-understand sections on price, income and margin; dairy; CAO post 2020; fixing Ireland’s beef and livestock sector; environment, sustainable farming and renewables; farming and finance.

Mr McCormack said the document has been designed specifically to alert candidates to the issues identified as most pressing for our farming and wider rural communities at this point and also to solutions that he characterised as “do-able, practical, fair and progressive”   

But he said it was already perfectly obvious on which two issues the farmer and broader rural vote might depend.

“Firstly, the relentless pressure on farmer income and farmer margin has been and remains the central point. Last year saw unprecedented and costly disruption in the sector – our biggest indigenous economic sector – as farmers broke under the pressure of producing particularly beef for prices that were less than their costs of production. We have farmers across all sectors receiving the same prices as their parents received 30 years ago. Everyone sympathises, but we don’t want sympathy anymore. We want fair prices. We want action. Politicians who go to farmers’ yards and doors are going to be told that forcefully and straight out”, said Mr McCormack.

“The second issue that is going to dominate this Election for farmers is the constant attack on their livelihoods and the economic viability of rural Ireland by the most aggressive and arrogant elements of the environmental movement. Farmers accept the reality of climate change and accept the need for change, but we reject absolutely the idea that farmers alone will have to change their way of life. Every part of society will have to contribute to the increased costs of changing the way we produce food. Any candidate that comes out with ill-informed, glib anti-farmer messages will be challenged on their grasp of the facts,” he added.

Mr McCormack said ICMSA is a categorically non-political organisation and does not endorse specific candidates or political party. But he stressed they will not tolerate a campaign where farmers are made the “whipping boys” for anyone’s pet projects or concerns.

“We have represented farm families for a long time; this is our 70th anniversary and I would strongly urge every candidate to take the time to read and become aware of both the issues and solutions that we know will work for Irish farming and the communities that depend on that,” said Mr McCormack