IFA President Tim Cullinan believes that Irish farming is facing into a very challenging year as the costs of doing business threaten to wipe out ‘some modest gains’ made during 2021.
He believes that family farms could be overwhelmed by the steep increases in costs such as feed, energy and fertiliser. According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), input costs had risen by 15 per cent already in 2021 with signs for 2022 appearing hugely concerning.
“As farmers, we continue to produce high-quality, safe and nutritious food,” he said. “While a vocal minority has been attempting to vilify farmers, the vast majority of people support Irish farming and are proud of our countryside and the food produced by Irish farmers.”
Mr Cullinan said that farm families are fearful that their incomes are being sacrificed without a clear plan for the sector at farm level.
“We need real engagement with the Government to devise a properly-funded Climate Plan that strikes the right balance between environmental, economic and social sustainability. This will be our focus in 2022,” he stated.
“Policymakers here and in Brussels have to recognise that while farmers are willing to undertake more environmental actions, their incomes must be protected,” he said.
The Irish CAP Strategic Plan has been approved by the Government and sent to Brussels. The plan, like almost all of their policies, will put more costs on productive farmers, while their supports are being undermined by policy decisions and inflation.
Tim Cullinan continued: “Policy makers are not putting sufficient value on food production and our retailers continue to undermine the value of our produce by using it as a loss leader. This is not sustainable and I believe those in power will come to regret this short-sighted move, which encourages farmers to produce less. Our global population is increasing and the world will need more food, not less.”
The surge in Covid-19 cases was also a concern for the sector, he added. “Our farmers, and those working in the food sector, have worked hard to keep the food chain operating, but everybody will be very stretched as case numbers soar due to the Omicron variant. It’s important that everybody heeds the public health advice and stays safe in the coming weeks.”
Tim Cullinan concluded: “2021 also saw a reduction in the number of farm fatalities, although it’s still far too high. We need to continue to do all we can to ensure there’s an improvement in 2022.”