Based on Sterling depreciation and the volume of cattle exports to the UK, Irish beef farmers are losing close to €2m per week.
The cattle price cuts are inflicting severe financial damage on the low-income livestock sector and eroding confidence in the trade.
Joe Healy said the severe impact of the Brexit Sterling exchange rate crisis on the incomes of beef farmers and mushroom growers can no longer be brushed aside and he called on Minister Creed to mount an urgent and decisive Government action plan at national and EU level to deal with the crisis.
Since April, the UK beef market is up 7%. As our most important market, this should be good news. The problem is that Sterling is down 8% in the same time period. When the UK election was called, Sterling was at 85p:€1. It had been at, or close to that level, in previous months. Today it’s 92p:€1. The impact on the price of beef is about 15c/kg.
The IFA President said it is imperative that the Government now seeks EU support for farm level measures that will counteract the price drops, which are arising directly from the Sterling depreciation, independent of other normal market forces.
Joe Healy said Minister Creed must pursue the following funding in Brussels as part of a Government action plan.
- Demand that the CAP Crisis Reserve fund be used to provide direct support to farmers. The crisis reserve is intended to provide additional support for the agricultural sector in the case of major crises affecting agricultural production or distribution.
- Secure direct support at EU level for affected producers through CAP Market Support measures, with support sought under Article 221 of the Single CMO, which provides the Commission with the authority to deal with Specific Problems
- Request an increase in EU State Aid De Minimis limits to target support at the mushroom sector
In addition, at national level in Budget 2018, the Government must provide funding support to the primary agriculture sector through:
- Increased funding support to increase payments for the Areas of Natural Constraint to €230m.
- Additional support for the Beef Data and Genomics Programme of €25m for a bolt on welfare element worth €50 per suckler cow.
- Funding of an additional €5m for the Sheep Welfare Scheme to provide a €5 per ewe top up for hill and lowland producers who undertake additional environmental measures.
- Delivery of low-cost loans which will be available to all sectors of farming, including the mushroom sector
- Increased funding for the TAMS farm investment programme and the Scheme of investment aid for commercial horticulture