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IFA President Joe Healy said the clarification by Minister Creed that the 30-month age restriction for export to Japan has been removed is a welcome step towards reducing processor specification requirements.

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IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods and IFA Brussels Director Liam MacHale met with senior officials from Commissioner Hogan’s Cabinet in Brussels today to discuss the details of the €100m Brexit beef package announced by Commissioner Phil Hogan for Irish beef farmers.

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IFA President Joe Healy said confirmation that the EU Commission has agreed a Brexit beef package of €50m for Irish beef farmers means the Irish Government is expected to provide matching funding of €50m, bringing the total package to €100m.

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Referring to the launch of Tillage Industry Ireland, IFA Grain Chairman Mark Browne said, “The sector is in serious decline and a co-ordinated approach is required by all stakeholders in order to stabilise the sector,” he said.

According to CSO figures, the area planted to the main cereal crops since 2008 has reduced by 67,500ha, which represents a drop of over 20%.  “This stark reality confirms that tillage must be considered as a vulnerable sector in Irish agriculture. The arable sector is of major strategic importance to the broader agricultural industry as it underpins Ireland’s livestock, dairy, drinks and mushroom sectors, and the €12.6 billion in exports,” he said.

Mark Browne said the sector faces many challenges, with the most immediate being the importation of grains from non-EU countries which are undermining Irish grain producers and Ireland’s food branding image. These third country imports are produced under standards which are not equivalent with the sustainability standards of Irish grain production.

In relation to CAP, the Grain Committee Chairman emphasised that tillage farmers had been disproportionately affected by the current regime due to downward convergence and greening issues. Any continuation of these policies in CAP 2020 would only contribute to the further decline of the arable area in the country.

Mark Browne concluded by stressing that the tillage sector had many positives aspects for the economy and particularly in relation to Ireland’s food provenance credentials. It can also play a vital role regarding Ireland achieving its climate change, biodiversity and water quality targets.

Commenting on today’s (Tuesday) decision by Lakeland and Glanbia to hold their milk prices for the milk produced by farmers in April, IFA National Dairy Chairman Tom Phelan said it was important that, for the next few months, co-ops would adopt a more positive mindset on milk prices to reflect improved markets and help with the increased cash flow needs of dairy farmers.

“The National Dairy Committee has engaged in a major lobbying exercise for April milk in every co-op area.  It is quite remarkable that, bearing in mind the amount of talking down of milk prices coming from some co-op management teams and boards, the first two co-ops to announce their milk price have decided to hold.  A more positive move would have been to declare the end of cuts, too,” Mr Phelan said.

“In light of lower global supplies, stronger Oceanian dairy price trends as shown by last week’s GDT auction, and improved EU and international powder prices, exemplified by the lift in the Ornua PPI milk price equivalent to 31.6c/l incl VAT, co-ops can and must, switch towards a more positive approach on milk prices from now on,” he concluded.

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