By Amy McShane
The annual general meeting of the ICSA took place in Portlaoise on Thursday night, with president Patrick Kent attacking the Government and meat factories over dwindling farm incomes.
ICSA president Patrick Kent outlined major issues including providing a fairer regulatory environment and support schemes, only producing food for viable markets and ensuring farmers get a fair share of profits.
He said increasing Irish cattle and sheep exports was “top of the agenda” and called on the next government to put a greater emphasis on this.
“There is a reluctance to push for more live exports and increase the flow,” Kent said.
He attacked the Government’s decision to provide more support for dairy farmers, who even in a bad year have far superior incomes in comparison to drystock farmers.
Kent also expressed the organisation’s dissatisfaction with Bord Bia, saying they had “failed on marketing beef effectively. Weight limits as low as 400kg are being implemented. These are totally unworkable.” He added that such restrictions “force farmers into situations where they cannot reach their margins”.
Corporations “bleeding farmers dry”
Margins are also an issue with regards to the overall food chain, and Kent called for an EU regulator to be established “to see who gets what”.
With regards to the relationship between farmers and meat factories, he said this “certainly hasn’t improved”.
Primary producers “should be far better off” and multinational corporations are “bleeding farmers dry”, he added.
Kent also criticised Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, saying he was “delusional when it comes to issues to do with agriculture”.
Minister Coveney was among the speakers at the ICSA AGM, along with Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman Éamon Ó Cuív and chairman of the Oireachtas committee on agriculture, Fine Gael TD Andrew Doyle.