Speaking at the farmers’ information meeting in Mullingar this evening, IFA President Joe Healy said the cattle price cuts of over €100 per head in the last month were inflicting severe financial damage on the low income livestock sector and eroding confidence in the trade.
The farmers’ information was organised by Fine Gael TD for Westmeath Peter Burke and took place on the beef and sheep farm of Paddy Donnelly at Balrath, Mullingar. Guest speakers were the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and the IFA President Joe Healy.
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. He said in recent days the sterling problem was also being used to pull back lamb prices.
“Sterling has been falling since April, when the UK the general election was called, when it was at 85p:€1. The decline has accelerated in recent weeks, with sterling falling to 93p:€1 by the end of August.”
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