The Food Vision Dairy Groups interim report contains a number of proposals that Macra na Feirme has rejected and has serious reservations about the feasibility of the timeframe given to achieve the targets set out.
The main issues for Macra na Feirme centre around the cow reduction scheme and the targets outlined for nitrogen reduction in the next 31 months.
Macra na Feirme national president John Keane, commenting on the interim report, said “the Voluntary Dairy Exit/ Deintensification scheme as proposed is essentially a reintroduction of quotas on Irish farms. The proposal will limit the productive capacity of farmland while also increasing the competition among farmers for the remaining available land.”
Mr Keane said: “this proposed scheme plays absolutely no role in facilitating generational renewal. It is beyond comprehension that we would not want to encourage more young people into the sector. With numbers of young people actively farming at an all-time low at just under 6% and the Department putting up more obstacles the question needs to be answered are we pursuing food production or food reduction?”
The proposal around chemical N reduction also poses huge challenges for the sector as a whole. The Macra president outlined what it essentially means is “that farmers across the country must have 20% of their farms sown with clover by this time next year and acquire the knowledge to manage such swards in order to have any chance of meeting the target reduction outlined.
“With Minister McConalogue’s comments in recent days about food security in the medium term, the outcomes of these proposals will be food reduction and fewer young people entering the sector as the opportunities that exist become curtailed,” concluded Mr Keane.
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