IFA has made a detailed submission to the Government and the EU Commission in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
IFA President Tim Cullinan said it’s recognised that keeping the food supply chain moving as freely as possible is a priority in managing the crisis. However, he said the food chain will only work if it’s viable for all parts of the chain, including primary producers.
“The closure of the food service sector across Europe has hit Ireland disproportionately as we are an export country. While there has been an increase in retail sales across Europe, much of this is taken up by domestic suppliers who have surplus product due to food service closures in their country,” he said.
“We are facing massive challenges across all sectors, but the beef market is now in turmoil. We need significant measures urgently,” he said.
“Now is not the time for public rows, but I want to make it clear that the processing sector will have to take their share of the pain during this crisis. They cannot expect farmers to carry the can,” he said.
“We have sent this submission to the EU Agriculture Commissioner and the Minister for Agriculture who now has much more flexibility under State Aid rules. We appreciate that there lots of others who need support, but farmers cannot be forgotten,” he said.
The IFA has proposed that the EU CMO (Common Market Organisation) measures available under EU Regulation 1308/2013, Articles 219 to 221 must be immediately utilised to support farmers including:
- Direct payments for any price related market losses
- Market supports in the form of specific and targeted APS.
- EU Commission should move to protect the EU markets and prices, and suspend all non-EU beef imports.
On the sheep sector, the COVID-19 crisis is having a very severe impact with the loss of major market segments and price down as much as €1/kg or up to €23 per lamb at farm level.
IFA is proposing EU action in the form of direct payment aid, APS market supports, suspension of non-EU imports and promotions.
Irish milk production reaches peak at mid-May, with milk volumes building between now and then.
IFA believes a properly-designed, promptly-implemented Aid to Private Storage (APS) scheme would provide the best suited support for the dairy sector in the face of market disturbances caused by COVID-19, while also facilitating a prompt market recovery after the pandemic crisis comes to an end.
IFA has also submitted proposals in relation to animal health, tillage, pigs, horticulture and aquaculture sectors.
IFA has proposed the Government and the EU Commission must work with the European Investment Bank, and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, to address working capital difficulties by providing low-cost loans to farmers, in particular low-cost term loan products.