“THERE is a bright and viable future for young farmers in West Cork,” said the head of Ireland’s largest farming organization.
Irish Farmers Association (IFA) President Tim Cullinane said The south star that when it comes to IFA, the future is bright for agriculture, not just in West Cork, but across the country.
“I am convinced that there is a viable future for young farmers and it is our duty to ensure that this happens,” Cullinane said.
The IFA President was speaking during a tour of West Cork last week. he visited the Zero Carbon Project at Shinagh Farm in Carbery and presented his IFA Honorary Life Member title to DJ O’Donovan at his Drinagh farm.
Mr. Cullilnane also visited Pat O’Neill’s farm in Droumlave near Adrigole.
He said farmers were “unfairly targeted” when it came to tackling climate change.
“We are playing our part in the fight against climate change and we have the necessary measures in place, but there has to be a fair price for what we produce. If we take all of these steps, then the prices of our products will have to go up, although the consumer may have to pay more for what they buy.
“Everyone wants carbon neutral food and that obviously comes at a price, and the farmer needs to be rewarded for producing top quality food. “
Mr Cullinane also said that one of the main priorities of the organization is to achieve a positive result on the exemption for nitrates.
“This is of great concern to farmers, especially to secure the exemption in the future,” Cullinane said.
“There are a number of proposals – and I want to stress that these are just ministry proposals – that would prove to be very costly for farmers.”
One of these proposals is the mandatory recovery of all slurry storage units from January 2022, he added.
“We need to look at other options first, such as crusting the tanks by putting hay seeds on top of the slurry, which would germinate and cover the tank. The ministry claims that the open slurry tank releases ammonia into the atmosphere, but there is a simple solution to this problem.
“Also, if farmers are to build additional storage on their farms, there has to be appropriate support and funding around it, with subsidy programs and low interest loans as well.”
Mr. Cullinane also wants more funding to support farmers for biodiversity measures.
“Farmers have always protected and worked to protect biodiversity,” Cullinane said. “For all the measures that have been introduced in the new CAP reform, we are ready to work with them, but there has to be appropriate funding around these regimes. There is now enormous pressure on farmers with all of these programs and there will be costs associated with them. We had a government commitment for a new environmental program worth € 1.5 billion from a € 10 billion carbon tax, so I want to make sure our government offers this to our farmers.
Mr Cullinane said that for IFA there are four top priorities for securing a viable future for family farms in West Cork and across the country.
“We currently have huge problems facing our industry,” Cullinane said.
“There is the climate issue, sectoral objectives and budgets, the reform of the CAP and national co-financing, then the nitrates exemption to ensure that farmers can continue to cultivate in an environmentally friendly manner in the future. “