News & Media

Labour pledges supports to rural Ireland and family farms

15 May 2019

Statement by Willie Penrose TD
Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Rural & Community Affairs

Labour Spokesperson for Agriculture, Willie Penrose TD, has called for greater investment in farm safety and farm modernisation. The Labour Party has today launched our ‘Connecting Rural Ireland’ Policy Document which included plans to assist farmers with safety standards on farms and calls for the reintroduction of the Early Retirement Scheme previously closed in 2009. The document also outlines measures which can be taken to protect small to medium family farms against the uncertainty which Brexit has brought to the Irish agricultural market.

Deputy Penrose said;

“Agri-food is our most important indigenous sector and its continued success is essential for ensuring employment in rural Ireland. Yet, far too often farmers are separated out from other workers and their needs as workers are not seen as being the concern of the state.

“This has led to decisions such as that taken by Fianna Fáil in 2009 to close the Early Retirement Scheme (ERS3) for farmers. Our farming workforce is getting older and often they work alone on their farms. Many of these men and women have no route out of work as they age which is why programmes such as the early retirement are badly needed.  

“In addition to improving conditions for older farmers, we need to find more ways to incentivise younger workers to go into farming. We would reduce the cost associated with education and training in the agriculture sector, such as for the Green Cert. Labour also believes agriculture is primed for the introduction of apprenticeships as is seen in other industries. Not coming from a family farm shouldn’t be a barrier to those wanting to pursue a career in the industry.

“Farm safety is a primary concern of every farmer, but greater supports are needed to ensure they have safe working environments. We in Labour are proposing to extend the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes (TAMS) beyond the 2020 deadline to promote farm safety measures, with targeted and supports for younger, smaller and disadvantaged farms.

“We also appreciate the very real threat that Brexit poses to the traditional family farm. The reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) poses significant challenges, as well as opportunities which we must be ready to meet. Rather than punishing hard-pressed farmers, Labour will ensure that the small to medium family-run farms which dominate the sector is protected and provide additional supports for farmers to expand into new markets at home and abroad. 

“One way in which can protect these farms is through the introduction of a Farmers Market Incentive Programme so farmers and fishing companies have increased opportunities to sell their high-quality products to local communities. It is also essential that we provide a new round of the Agricultural Cashflow Loan Scheme to ensure low-cost finance is available to farmers, especially in the context of fluctuations in the value of Sterling.”

ENDS

The full pdf policy can be read here: https://www.labour.ie/download/pdf//labour_connecting_rural_ireland_policy.pdf

or online here: https://www.labour.ie/manifesto/connecting-rural-ireland/