Rebuilding Rural Communities

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A National Flooding Authority

Currently there are too many agencies involved in managing flooding in Ireland. A National Authority could provide a holistic strategy for managing flooding including, (1) forcing insurance companies to insure people caught in areas of potential flooding, (2) working with the relevant planning authorities to refuse all planning permission on flood plains, (3) A major reforestation drive on flood plains.

A New Deal For Farmers

Farmers need a new deal in Ireland to take on two big challenges – climate change and the big corporations. Unlike other developed countries, agriculture is responsible for 33% of all Co2 Emissions in the Republic making it the worst sector for climate damage overall. Employment in the sector is also declining, as big business increasingly controls the production cycle. In meat processing for example, three companies – ABP, Dawn Meats and Kepak – dominate the industry. Meat and dairy are currently the most viable sectors economically, but they are also the most damaging to health and the natural environment.

To enable farmers to make a living through sustainable farming, People Before Profit would:

  • Redirect CAP payments so that 80% of them no longer go to the wealthiest 20% of framers. The average payment in Ireland is only around €3,000 per annum, but the biggest farmers get many multiples of this. We would bring all farmers up to an average payment of €10,000 per annum and cap direct payments at €30,000 annually.
  • Introduce a special levy on the profits of the major processors, the major supermarkets and the biggest farmers. This would bring in €1.3 billion annually to give farmers a further €10,000 on average each.
  • Support co-operative farming run with credit from the state. This would help to generate efficiencies of scale, promote employment and enhance rural life more generally.
  • Promote small local processors to service co-operatives in Ireland
  • Shift the focus away from beef and dairy through the development of organic farming for direct farmer markets.
  • 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.
  • Support a major increase in afforestation to create tens of thousands of new jobs. Afforestation is an enormously important source of carbon sequestration, but we need to diversify the forestry model from an overreliance on a narrow range of species to avail of this fully.
  • 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.
  • Protect farmers from the damaging effects of Brexit. Currently, 40% of our agricultural exports end up in the UK market. To guard against the negative impacts of Brexit, PBP would use some of the government’s Rainy Day Fund to compensate farmers.

2019 Policy Interventions

  • Invest €500m in Rural Broadband
  • Increase capital expenditure including a major Western Rail Corridor from Letterkenny to Cork City.
  • Reopen rural post offices
  • Invest in agri-environmental initiatives