THE 60th anniversary of the founding of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) was celebrated at an event at the National Conference Centre recently.
Speaking at the event, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan said that thanks to the IFA Irish farmers are the best-organised and most influential in Europe.
He said: “From the beginning of Ireland’s membership of the EU, the IFA has been a permanent and influential presence in Brussels.”
The market in the USA has just been reopened for Irish beef, which is seen as a very positive development for Irish farmers.
Commissioner Hogan said: “2015 got off to a great start, with the announcement of the re-opening of the US market for Irish beef after a long hiatus.
“John Donnelly and Tom Parlon were at the helm during the BSE crisis. Together, they worked to steer the ship through those dark days.
“No doubt they are delighted that their hard work is now rewarded and the United States is open for beef business.
“The value of this to Irish agriculture cannot be understated. With the euro at a nine-year low against the dollar, and with grass-fed beef already enjoying a premium in all cuts, the possibilities for growing exports and revenues are enormous.
“The US is an 11 million beef tonne market, so Ireland will be first out in securing market share in the high-value market segments.
“With our cultural links to the US, it is not hard to dream up an alluring marketing campaign to attract the 40 million Irish-Americans – and more besides – back to eating Irish beef,” he said.
Commissioner Hogan also said that he was determined to tackle the problems in the food supply chain, which means that consumers pay too much for groceries and farmers pay too much for inputs.
He plans to meet the EU’s Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, who will investigate any breaches of competition law.
Commissioner Hogan went on to say that he thought that the current scope of the EU supply chain initiative was at present too narrow to deal with all suppliers who extract unjustified high-profit margins.