Carbon tax must be used to fund agriculture – IFA chair

Proceeds from the government’s carbon tax should be used to support Irish agriculture into the future, according to Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) National Livestock chairman Brendan Golden.

He told Agriland:

“Revenues from the tax should amount to €1.5 billion annually. A proportion of this should be used to meet the needs of those farmers who may well find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place once the dust relating to last week’s Common Agricultural Policy [CAP] has settled.”

The Mayo man is deeply concerned about the prospects for beef finishing in Ireland, particularly if the implementation of the eco scheme is not handled properly.

He said: “We are looking at the possibility of some beef finishers losing up to 50% of their Pillar I payments within a decade, if the wrong decisions are taken on their behalf over the coming months.

“We already know that a number of beef finishers lost 25% of their single payment at the last review of the Common Agricultural Policy [CAP], with some of these same farmers looking down the barrel of similar cuts this time around.”

Carbon tax and beef finishers

According to Golden, beef finishers are at the very heart of Ireland’s rural economy.

He further explained: “These are the people that are going into the marts and buying the store cattle and suckled calves. These trading practices are at the very heart of local economies up and down the country.

“If the buying power of these people is diminished in any way, it impacts significantly on the economy of the country as a whole.”

The IFA representative continued: “The Irish government now has greater flexibility to use national funding as a way of boosting Pillar II. This option must be taken.

“Boosting national support levels for the suckler sector must also be taken. And these decisions must be made without delay,” he added.

Farm gate prices

Golden also believes that Brussels must act to deliver better farm gate prices.

He said: “The Covid- 19 pandemic has shown that consumers are willing to pay that little bit more for the food that they cook at home.

“But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Currently, farmers are being squeezed by a combination of rising input costs, static support measures and sluggish returns when they sell their produce.

“The EU must act now to deliver fair farmgate prices.

“I buy into the theory that food prices may well rise in line with the world’s growing population. But it will take a few years for this effect to fully kick in.

“By that time many Irish farmers may well have gone out of business. Agriculture needs realistic support now,” he concluded.

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