15 February 2016
By Tom Collins
Independent candidate for the upcoming general election Cllr. John Paul O’ Shea has said “The next Government must support the Cork North West region which is heavily invested in the agriculture and the agri-food sectors. Agriculture in Cork North West plays a significant role in the lives of many families in the region and this sector needs to be supported and enhanced”.
With beef and milk production two of the most popular farming activities in the country, accounting for around 60% of our total agricultural output, it is imperative to ensure the challenges around price volatility in our milk production are addressed and an substantial increase in the intervention pricing is obtained in order to prevent farmers from losing their significant investment in preparing for the abolition of quotas and its future production. Exporting approx 90% of our beef, makes Ireland the largest beef exporter in Europe and one of the largest in the world. Similarly, we export 85% of our dairy output. “If elected, I will ensure that the farming community receives a fair and equitable price for its beef into the future”.
The other farming sectors such as sheep and tillage must also be to the forefront. These, alongside pig and poultry production, are key areas where farmers throughout Cork North West make their living. Cllr. O’ Shea added “The incoming Government must ensure that the value of these farming sectors are prioritised and assisted to develop and expand further without the constant threat of price and production volatility. In particular, I would like to see an increase of sheep farming and pig production in the region with a number of key supports introduced to assist in this process. The farmer and farm families are ready and willing to expand in Cork North West and every help should be given to support this.
The agri-food sector is one of Ireland’s most important indigenous manufacturing sectors, accounting for employment of around 150,000 people nationally. Global company Danone has a large scale operation in Macroom estimated to be providing not only 140 highly skilled jobs, but is producing 20% of the world’s infant milk formula using milk provided by Dairygold Co-op. This further proves the impact that farmers and top quality produce can have locally, nationally and internationally.
Cllr. O’ Shea commented “On the other side of the scale, we have a burgeoning artisan food and drink sector right across the constituency, from Ballyhoura Apple Farm, to Macroom’s Toons Bridge Dairy, McCarthy’s of Kanturk and 9 White Deer Brewery from Ballyvourney and the ever expanding Dee’s Wholefoods in Ballincollig just some of the locally based producers making a name for themselves here at home and abroad. These industries are on the increase and must be supported. They are providing employment in smaller, hard to target areas of our constituency and have enormous potential, as 85% of our food, drinks and seafood is exported to more than 160 countries worldwide which is a wonderful achievement for these entrepreneurs. Many of these businesses started out on family farms or domestic kitchens. I want to see this continue and support provided for our agri-food industry to see it flourish even further throughout Cork North West in the coming years”.
The equine industry in Cork North West is also of a very high standard and sometimes often goes unrecognised and unnoticed of the contribution it makes to society. Wither it is racing, breeding and equestrian sports, the industry is worth hundreds of millions of euro of economic activity annually, sustaining jobs through its network of racecourses, trainers, breeders and farms with an enviable skills base. “I want to see that continue and it will be my priority if elected to do so”.