KILDARE farmer Brian Rushe, who is seeking to become the next deputy president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), has said that the new edition of the Food Wise 2025 plan must have a greater focus on how to deliver more sustainable farm incomes.
Mr Rushe, who also serves as the IFA’s chair for Kildare/West Wicklow, remarked that the new plan must deliver where he said previous plans have failed.
“I fully support the creation of a new roadmap for our sector,” he said. “However, Food Wise 2025 and Food Harvest 2020 have both delivered success but not for the most important people in the chain – the farmer. Our processors and exporters would be nothing without farmers, yet our sustainability and our viability as farmers has never been under greater threat. Expansion for expansion’s sake is no way to secure the future of our sector and our incomes.”
Food Wise 2025 is the current ten-year strategy for the agri-food sector, and preparations have begun on the new strategy to 2030. Any new plan, Mr Rushe has said, must place farm family incomes at its heart – fighting for a sustainable income for all farm families in Ireland is one of the driving forces behind his campaign to become deputy president.
“Unlike Food Wise or Food Harvest, family farms must not be treated as an afterthought – farmers must be at the centre of the new plan,” he said. “It is not just about producing more. We cannot and must not commoditise the quality of what we produce just to expand the profits of the processors here. Our farmers are jumping hurdles higher than any other farmer in the world to produce high-quality, sustainable and traceable food. However, there is no sustainability without income sustainability.”
He added that he is demanding that Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed “keep this message central in all aspects of this new food strategy”.
The Kildare man will contest the upcoming election alongside Thomas Cooney, a farmer from Laragh, Co Cavan and chair of the IFA’s Environment & Rural Affairs committee who recently launched his bid to become deputy president.