Make Farming Viable
- Reform CAP to make payments more equal. In the EU-15, 80% of CAP payments go to the wealthiest 20% of framers. Although the average payment in Ireland is only around €3,000 per annum, the biggest farmers get many multiples of this. In 2015, for example, Glydee Farms (majority owned by Larry Goodman, the main shareholder of ABP) received €238,000, while the Queally brothers, John and Peter, owners of Dawn Meats, received €259,000. Our policy would be to bring all farmers up to an average payment of €10,000 per annum. We would also cap direct payments – perhaps around €30,000 annually.
- Redistribute Profit Levy. To bring farmers to an average of €10,000 we will need to redistribute part of the €1.3 billion from the profit levy to the 130,000 farmers in Ireland. Reorganising CAP and the new profit levy will make farming more viable for many small and medium enterprises. Within the broad redistributive framework we will also incentivise nutritious food grown for the domestic market and environmental initiatives.
- Reduce Price Volatility. The prices received by Irish farmers vary considerably. Changes in global supply and demand have major impacts on the viability of small and medium sized ventures. People Before Profit would aim to smooth out this price volatility without incentivising overproduction. The aim would be to rationalise domestic supply and give farmers a more predictable long term pricing structure.
Shift the Focus Away from Beef and Dairy
- Incentivise the development of organic farming for local consumption and direct farmer markets. Organic farming is a small (1776 units) but growing sector. To date it has not been given the right incentives, however. Our policy would look to incentivise farmers through direct grants to move into organic farming. We want to break the control that large retail chains have on food production and create a network of farmer’s markets in free, serviced public spaces.
- Incentivise an increase in tillage farming from 10% -40%. At present Irish farmers only supply 1% of all fruit and vegetables consumed in the country. A major drive to service the domestic market would be good for the environment and provide new sources of income for many farmers in rural Ireland.
- Look at the viability of creating a domestic hemp industry. Hemp is purported to be an excellent building material. Added to this, it can sequester major amounts of C02 making it a potentially useful crop to grow for environmental purposes. PBP would invest in this industry to reduce our carbon footprint and to tackle the corporate power of companies like Cement Roadstone.
- Major increase in afforestation. Our forests are already a huge economic asset for the state, generating thousands of jobs and huge revenue. If we invested in them and managed them properly, as is done elsewhere in Europe, they have the potential to create literally tens of thousands of new jobs. Instead the government have been selling off the harvesting rights to private companies. Afforestation is also an enormously important source of carbon sequestration, but we need to diversify the forestry model from an over reliance on a narrow range of species.