Ireland South candidates engage with farmers on water quality and other EU issues at Carbery event ahead of EU Elections

West Cork, 29 May 2024 : European election candidates for Ireland South Billy Kelleher (FF), John Mullins ( FG) and Eddie Punch (Independent Ireland) engaged with 50 West Cork dairy farmers on a range of issues facing the agricultural sector, including the retention of the nitrates derogation at a Carbery event held in the Fernhill House Hotel in Clonakilty.

The agenda covered some of the major issues currently facing the farming community such as food security, enhancing the reputation of farming, and the impact of the potential loss of Ireland’s nitrates derogation.

The discussion was wide ranging – with candidates answering a range of questions on the issues facing farmers in the coming years, including uncertainty caused by changes in policy, water quality, the future of the CAP (Common Agriculture Policy) and the challenges of attracting new generations into farming.  The audience consisted of members of the boards of the four West Cork Co-ops (Bandon, Barryroe, Drinagh and Lisavaird) and of the Carbery board.

Commenting on the event, Carbery CEO Jason Hawkins stated:

“We wanted to facilitate this event because we believe there needs to be much more constructive engagement between farmers, dairy processors and our representatives in Brussels. A series of policies and decisions have come from Brussels in recent years which are damaging to the future of farming and the agricultural sector. We wanted to give our shareholders the opportunity to explain first hand some of the pressures they are facing, what we are facing as a sector, and to hear how the candidates would plan address these should they be elected.”

Clonakilty, West Cork, Ireland. 28th May, 2024. Carbery Group organised an event which ran today to allow European election candidates for Ireland South to present their views on agriculture policy to Carbery farmer shareholders and listen to the issues farmers are concerned about. Candidates in attendance were Billy Kelleher, John Mullins and Eddie Punch. At the event were Cormac O’Keeffe, Carbery Chair; Donal McCArthy, Drinagh Co-Op Chair; Billy Kelleher, European Candidate; John Mullins, Eurpean Candidate; Peter Fleming, Barryroe Co-Op Chair; Eddie Punch, European Candidate; Vincent O’Donovan, Bandon Co-Op Chair and Jason Hawkins, Carbery CEO. Picture: Andy Gibson.

The feedback following the event was relatively positive, with Carbery Chair Cormac O’Keeffe commenting:

“Farmers know the future direction of regulation and what we need to do to farm sustainably, but we are frustrated by the pace of these changes, and the lack of consideration on the impact of rolling out in a short timeframe. The candidates this morning were very supportive of farming and what it means to Cork and to Ireland. We would welcome the opportunity to also engage with candidates who may have a different view, to let them know what is important to our farmer shareholders as they go to the polls.”

Voting in the EU elections will take place on 7 June.

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