New department strategy to consider income and other supports for farmers

Among to be completed in 2021, plan outlines that food ombudsman’s office will be established

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, who received cabinet approval for the plan today, said his aim was to protect incomes and the environment. Photograph: iStock

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, who received cabinet approval for the plan today, said his aim was to protect incomes and the environment. Photograph: iStock

 

A new strategy from the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine will consider income and other supports for farmers as part of a broader strategy to drive down emissions from the sector while improving farm incomes.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, who received cabinet approval for the plan today, said his aim was to protect incomes and the environment.

Among 75 measures to be completed in 2021, the plan also outlines that a food ombudsman’s office will be established this year, first mooted more than 20 years ago. A ban on fur farming is also planned, while there will also be a new strategy for the food sector out to 2030.

A forum is to be convened to examine how to increase incomes, with beef and sheep farmers continuing to experience low incomes, earning between €10,000 and €12,000 per annum.

Mr McConalogue said that he is aiming to “protect farm incomes, protect the environment, and ensure that the agri-food sector continues to be positioned as a key pillar of our society. I’ve launched 75 measures in the action plan and I intend on it delivering on those three ambitions.”

The plan will also entail a new animal welfare strategy – including banning fur farming – and delivering a new strategic plan for the Common Agricultural Policy to the European Commission in 2021. It will consider providing income and targeted supports to farmers and others in the agri-food sector, as well as supporting the seafood sector.

New initiatives

While it is a strategy for 2021, it will set the Department’s strategic direction for the next three years, as well as indicators against which progress will be measured. The plan is also to bring forward new initiatives on “responsible pet ownership” and advance plans to amend the Control of Horses act.

It envisages new veterinary medicines legislation in January of next year, and will also examine new control and certification systems supporting the trade in animals and products of animal origin across the UK landbridge.

A system is to be set up to monitor the level of enforcement with regard to animal welfare legislation. A new forest strategy for the State is also envisaged before the end of the year. After widespread unrest amid cattle farmers over beef prices in 2019, the Department is also aiming to establish a new office to improve price transparency and implement an unfair trading practices directive.

Supports for the agri-food and fisheries sectors due to challenges arising from Brexit will also be developed. Measure to mitigate the impacts of fish quota share reductions arising from the UK-EU Brexit trade deal will also be considered.