Donegal TD Charlie McConalogue's elevation to Agriculture Minister has been warmly received by farming groups
Farming groups have welcomed the appointment of Donegal TD, Charlie McConalogue as the new Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, but they stress that the new Minister must urgently address “the economic sustainability” of cattle and sheep farmers in particular.
ICSA president Edmond Phelan said: “Agriculture has suffered over recent months without ministerial leadership. Minister McConalogue now needs to get to grips with the pressing issues and make up for lost time. The key issues will be Brexit and the CAP reform, both of which will be critical in determining the future for Irish farming.”
He said Minister McConalogue needs to inject a sense of urgency into the Beef Taskforce adding “it has been side-lined for too long and farmers want results now. It must bring about total transparency in the food chain and ensure that neither processor nor retailer can abuse their dominant positions.”
“The roll out of a new REPS type scheme is vital if we are serious about playing our part in the EU Biodiversity and Farm to Fork strategies. ICSA is calling for a trebling of the current GLAS budget to facilitate the scheme, given the numbers of farmers it would hope to attract. An annual budget of €750 million is the minimum required.
“ICSA also wants to see the establishment of a dedicated Sheep Taskforce with a remit to tackle all the ongoing issues in the sector.”
The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) said "INHFA looks forward to building a good working relationship with the Minister over the coming years".
"I have requested an early meeting with the Minister" continued O Donnell, "to present him with the INHFA pre budget submission and outline key priorities and concerns on behalf of our members and their farm families. Among those priorities are, that Minister McConalogue strives to become the Minister representing all sectors within Agriculture and that his duty of care extends equally to ensure the sustainability of all farmers."
Concluding, the farm leader pointed out that Minister McConalogue is well aware of the INHFA position on a number of issues having attended numerous events held by the INHFA in his previous position as opposition spokesperson on Agriculture.
IFA president, Tim Cullinan, said that IFA expects Minister McConalogue to get to grips with his portfolio quickly.
With the prospect of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit farmers are in the frontline in terms of a damaging outcome and the Minister has to carry this message at Government and EU level, said Mr Cullinan.