Former agriculture minister, Brendan Smith, has emphasized the urgent need for Irish farmers to receive sustainable prices, both now and in the future. Speaking at the 50th anniversary event for Teemore Engineering, Smith specifically highlighted the current pressure on dairy farmgate returns. He acknowledged that the Irish government cannot directly support farmer prices, as the cyclical trends impacting food commodity markets are beyond their control. Smith stressed the importance of all sectors within the farming food chain working together to provide stability for farmers.
Looking ahead to the upcoming budget, Smith emphasized the need for the Irish government to address the challenges posed by the new nitrates regulations. He specifically mentioned the need for tillage farmers to have a level playing field when it comes to leasing the land they require for their businesses. Smith suggested that the government should retain all current tax exemptions for farmers and explore further changes to the tax landscape to support farm businesses.
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) agriculture spokesman, Tom Elliott, also attended the Teemore event and echoed Smith’s concerns. Elliott urged dairy farmers, milk processors, and animal feed companies to collaborate closely in the face of expected further pressure on international milk markets. He acknowledged that there is little prospect of dairy markets improving before the end of the year and emphasized the need for everyone involved in the dairy sector to cooperate effectively. Although the timing of the market rebound is uncertain, Elliott expressed confidence that the milk industry has rebounded before and will do so again.