Thursday, 12 May 2022
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Security: Statements
Ruairi Ó Murchú (Louth, Sinn Fein)
Many of us have spoken about the criminal Russian invasion of Ukraine and also its impact on food security. We must all reassess the matter and make sure we are prepared and protected into the future. It is true that during Covid we had adequate food supplies.
We all accept that we have had a fabulous farming industry in this State that has been able to deliver for us for generations and that is something we have to maintain into the future. On the wider issue of food security, we are well aware of these specific issues that will impact dreadfully on many far-flung parts of the world, be it the Middle East or Africa. The issues people might be dealing with on the basis of this could be up to and including farming. Any mitigation that can be introduced in that need to be done. We have to be much more aware of all our interconnectivity from the point of view of protecting all of us into the future.
I will go back to one of the major points that Deputy Carthy made, namely the idea of how we have set our society up. It is about the network of family farms and the fact that most of us who are not directly from one are only a generation or two removed from one. We have to ensure the sustainability of family farms and we know they are not sustainable right now. We have specific issues, including inflation and the supply chain issues that have been brought about by Covid, Brexit and the war in Ukraine. We have other issues also, including the cost of fuel. While we welcome some of the mitigations that have been introduced, we need to look at that point. We know that the CAP payments will be reduced in real terms into the future. The whole idea of CAP was to ensure we would have a steady supply of safe food and that needs to be rethought in any revision of the CAP strategic plan. We need to know whether the Government has any intentions to do so and if it does, as it should, it should be brought in front of this House.
I agree with a lot that has been said on climate change. I have spoken here about my attendance at IFA meetings previously and I have seen different conversations there to those that are held in the public domain. There are a huge amount of farmers who are willing and able and who are looking for partners to do what everybody accepts is necessary. We have failings from a Government point of view and it has not necessarily delivered. We all know we need to do business in organic farming, forestry, anaerobic digestion and renewable energy schemes. We have to look at all those matters.
I also want to reiterate the issue that was brought up by Deputy Mac Lochlainn. We need a sensible solution to the issue in Killybegs with the offloading of fish. We need something that works for the people as what is happening now is ridiculous.
Given I only have a short period of time left I want to bring up the issue of a constituent who came to me about the beef exceptional aid measure, BEAM, scheme. He accepted that it can only be availed of on the basis of a percentage reduction in stock numbers. The difficulty for him was that he was dealing with Teagasc on introducing slatted slurry pits and did not have them in at the time when the determinations were made. That gave him a greater level of capacity and anomalies like that need to be taken into account. I will bring that issue to the Minister and it is something we need to look at. That is a specific case but I imagine he is only one of many who have fallen between stools. We need to deal with that issue.