IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin has said he will lead the IFA dairy delegation, with National Dairy Chair Sean O’Leary, when the Dairy Forum meets for only the second time next week on 9th March. The Forum has been recalled by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney in response to IFA’s request.
Jer Bergin said the Forum, called in advance of the key EU Agriculture Ministers’ Council meeting of 14th March, must prioritise the co-ordination of a short-term strategy involving all stakeholders to support farmers’ cash flow over the coming months, with a mix of national and EU measures. He added the Forum should meet more regularly to help develop a sustainable long-term model for the Irish dairy sector in the context of highly changeable global economic, geopolitical, market and currency conditions.
IFA National Dairy Chairman Sean O’Leary said: “Irish farmers will soon be receiving their first milk cheque of the year, and it will be depressed by low constituents, while their feed expenditure will rise. At the Dairy Forum, the Minister must press co-ops, banks, Teagasc and other stakeholders to continue supporting farmers, providing budgeting assistance, flexible short term finance and practical advice on how to cut costs without harming the sustainability of herds and farms”.
“At the EU Agriculture Council meeting, Minister Coveney must insist on the priority delivery of measures that will make an immediate impact on cash flow,” he added.
“The EU must allow an exceptional extension on Superlevy repayments. Also, Minister Coveney must immediately press for the announcement of a fundamental review of the intervention system, including an extension in full price buy-in. We also need all penalties removed from the long term SMP APS, and the reallocation of unused national amounts for cheese APS must be speeded up. Finally the Commission must reduce obstacles on Member States, from State Aid Rules especially, to enable them to assist farmers with their challenged cash flow, including through innovative tax measures such as proposed by IFA,” he said.
“The Minister must go to the EU Agriculture Council with the boldness of the French, who two weeks ago delivered a €500m package of reduction in social charges for farmers. I am certain that the future of the Irish dairy sector remains very positive, however, to fully deliver on its strong potential, it needs to develop quickly its short and longer term ability to help farmers manage their way through potentially prolonged periods of low incomes,” he concluded.