12th December 2014
A meeting of Agriculture sector groups both North and South, the third such meeting in the last ten months has taken place and included representatives from the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA), Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association (NIAPA), Severally Disadvantaged Area Association Group (SDA), National Beef Association (NBA), Northern Ireland Livestock Auctioneers Association (NILAA), Farm Rights Group (FRG), Irish Co-operative Society (ICOS) and Farmers For Action (FFA).
At the meeting, a range of issues were discussed including the current crisis across a range of commodities produced on family farms north and south, the outcome of recent Round Table talks chaired by Minister Coveney in the south including the possibility of reviving the North/South live export trade, the labelling issues in relation to beef particularly in the
UK and a report was provided on progress in relation to a proposal for safety net farm gate price legislation put to Stormont by NIAPA, SDA, NBA and FFA.
Quite clearly, a margin over production costs is necessary to help provide an income for a family and maintain the sustainability of a farming unit. The various visions for the future of the agri food industry all seem to point to producing for an increasing world population, yet the margin at farm level continues to tighten. The underlying message from the meeting is that until such time as the powerful links further up the supply chain, namely processors and in particular multiple retailers are properly addressed and the food margins are shared in a more balanced way, ongoing crisis at farm level will continue and the family farm structure as we know it will continue to be undermined.