Local experts seek clarity on farming issues

In a recent edition of the Farmers Journal, Pat O’Rourke, Chair, Northern Irish Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) clarified his position in respect of his involvement in ICMSA, having come under fire early last month over his stance within the association.

In a recent edition of the Farmers Journal, Pat O’Rourke, Chair, Northern Irish Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) clarified his position in respect of his involvement in ICMSA, having come under fire early last month over his stance within the association.

In his letter to the editor, Mr O’Rourke stated that it had been over six years since he finished his term as president of the ICMSA, a commitment that ended in December 2006.

“I have not been involved in any negotiations, discussions or agreements with the general secretary, the administrative committee, or the president – either present or immediately past - and to suggest that I hold a position of major influence in ICMSA is flattering but incorrect,” Mr O’Rourke added. “I have developed other interests, but remain a trustee of the association and as a past president I would be very concerned for the future of the association. I think I am entitled to express that concern, but that is the extent of my involvement.”

Meanwhile, local Fianna Fáil Deputy, Robert Troy TD, speaking in his letter to the editor in the Farmers Journal stated that there was “a compelling argument” for government to allow farmers to “expand immediately”, despite the fact that they are facing a massive fine from Europe. “What I would like to see done is for Colm Carthy and Laurence Shalloo to sit down for a few hours together – with no political agenda – and for them to see how much better off the economy would be in 2015 and 2020 if the brakes were taken off now,” Deputy Troy said. “The benefits to the economy, I imagine would be immense and employment would be generated straight away in rural Ireland. It would also allow for the removal of administration taken up by the quotas in government and in co-ops and make ‘2020’ much more achievable with a longer lead in.”

He went on to say that a recent study undertaken by UCD showed that for every extra €100 generated by farmers, €75 was spent in the local economy. “We will give a way billions to bail out Anglo [Irish Bank] and is this okay while unemployment continues to remain high?” he questioned. “This year’s milk supply is now already set and co-ops would have to shape up or ship out, which it has to be said, would help the industry make bold decisions. While we will pay a fine this year, the extra product produced, I presume, has been sold without the co-ops suffering a financial hit.

If the Country paid the fine, surely the extra spin off in VAT, employment and exports for the Government would more than cover costs; worst case scenario, we’ll break even, but at least we’d be in a better position in 2015.”