Thursday, 19 January 2023
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Holly Cairns (Cork South West, Social Democrats)
In one way, the silver lining from this issue arising is that we are finally having more of a discussion about agriculture. We do not have a Sláintecare for agriculture or the kinds of closely monitored targets such as those in housing to see how much progress the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine is making, but exactly the same playbook is playing out in agriculture as that which has done in those other Departments, and that is allowing the privatisation of a public good. In the future, we will have exactly the same conversations about forestry that we have today about health and housing, with always the private interests being protected. The Tánaiste said the Government is introducing these premiums for farmers and that is great and I welcome it, but now a private investment company is going to reap all those funds it has introduced, or a huge part of them. It is really good that this is being highlighted because we do not have as in-depth discussions about agriculture. We have seen this play out over decades of policy, and how the supermarkets are doing quite well while farmers are price takers not price makers. Larry Goodman is doing fine and beef farmers are struggling to make ends meet. This is the latest example of prioritising those private interests over the interests of farmers.
The Tánaiste did not answer any of my questions, so I will reiterate them quickly. When did the Government find out about the deal? Why is the Minister showing interest in it only now? Why were the alternatives not explored before the deal was entered into? Will the Government review this decision and try to stop it?