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IFA President Joe Healy has called on the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to intervene at the highest levels in Brussels to stop a bad EU-Mercosur trade deal, which would do untold damage to our €3bn beef and livestock sector.

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Reacting to the draft EU regulation on the €100m Brexit beef fund circulated in Brussels today, IFA President Joe Healy said Minister Creed must reject all conditionality in the draft regulation that does not relate to the actual income losses experienced by beef and suckler farmers.

This draft regulation reflects the preliminary views of the Commission services, it has been sent to Member States for comment and it is not yet the official position of the Commission.

Joe Healy said, “This Brexit beef fund is for retrospective beef price losses that farmers have already incurred. Restructuring is a totally separate matter; it was not mentioned by Commissioner Hogan when the scheme was announced and was not part of the IFA submission on Brexit losses. This aid must not be made conditional on restructuring,” he said.

Joe Healy stressed, “Every cent of this fund must go directly to farmers and under no circumstances can any of it be diverted elsewhere. It would be wrong if the Commission and the Minister were now to embark on a convoluted process to take the good out the scheme by tying it up in knots”.

“The message from farmers is clear that this funding must get to the farmers who have incurred the losses and need it most, as soon as possible,” he said.

IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said Commissioner Hogan made it clear when the fund was announced that it was “for farmers who had suffered substantial market disturbance and it must be paid out as soon as possible.”

He said IFA is clear that the funding must go to farmers who sold prime finished cattle since last autumn and to suckler farmers.

“IFA has set out six principles as regards how the funding should be allocated. We are currently consulting with our members through regional meetings,” he said.

 

IFA President Joe Healy has said it is important for farmers and farm families to cast their vote tomorrow in EU and local elections.

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IFA President Joe Healy has welcomed the adoption today (12 March) by the European Parliament of new rules that will ensure the protection of European farmers against unfair trading practices (UTPS) in the food supply chain.

The new European law builds on a proposal tabled by the European Commission and will cover agricultural and food products traded in the food supply chain, banning for the first time up to 16 unfair trading practices imposed unilaterally by one trading partner on another.

The COPA and COGECA Group on the Food Supply Chain chaired Joe Healy in his capacity as a COPA Vice President, drove the campaign on behalf of European farmers on retail dominance and Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs).

“This is a positive result for farmers who have always been subjected to the whims of large retailers. The unfair trading practices to be banned include: late payments for perishable food products; last minute order cancellations; unilateral or retroactive changes to contracts; forcing the supplier to pay for wasted products and refusing written contracts,” said Joe Healy.

The IFA President acknowledged the work Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development has done to achieve this result.

“IFA has campaigned for many years, nationally and in Europe, for a re-balancing of power in the food supply chain. This is crucial to deliver a viable price for farmers, and a return on their work and investment. Many retailers were behaving like modern-day dictatorships, abusing their power to accumulate vast profits. The new rules announced today will re-balance the scale, which is all farmers ever wanted. Another important measure that IFA has called for is the appointment of an independent retail regulator for the food sector.” said Joe Healy.

The Irish Government must now transpose the Directive into Irish Law and IFA wants to see this happen without delay.

IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said winter finishers are in a real financial crisis, burning €200 per head on cattle. He said cattle prices are down €100 and feed costs up another €100 per head.

He said the Brexit “wait and see” approach from Agriculture Minister Michael Creed is crushing hope and confidence in the sector.

“Livestock farmers feel the Minister is walking away from the sector”.

Angus Woods said Minister Creed needs to quickly get on side with farmers and make a cast iron case to Brussels for a package of measures which will fully compensate for the Brexit losses.

He said “For every 5c/kg change on the price, Minister Creed needs to secure €20 per head additional direct payment compensation”.

The IFA Livestock Chairman said it is clear cattle prices are being held down by Brexit and beef farmers are carrying the can for it. He said there is a very strong case for compensation to make good the negative Brexit impact for the losses already being racked up.


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