At the first formal meeting with new EU Commissioner Phil Hogan in Brussels, IFA President Eddie Downey said that Irish farm families were under intense income pressure from a combination of product price volatility, escalating input costs and reducing EU direct supports which had to be addressed if the farm family model of EU farming was to be maintained.
In a wide ranging discussion covering the weakening dairy situation as a result of the Russian ban; the immediate approval of the Irish RDP; the future of CAP and simplification; trade deals and opening new markets for pork and beef and retailer regulation, the IFA President said that the Commissioner and his cabinet were well disposed to ensuring that everything possible was done to support farm families.
At the meeting, IFA Dairy Chairman Sean O Leary highlighted the negative impact the Russian ban was having on EU milk markets and the need for realistic intervention support prices, targeted export refunds and an extension to the exit time for APS. Mr. O Leary told the Commissioner that the mistakes of the delayed EU dairy market intervention in 2009 were catastrophic for producers and early intervention with realistic market supports was now critical.
Commissioner Hogan reassured the IFA that he was monitoring the situation closely and should it become necessary to intervene further going into 2015, he would use all market tools and the budget at his disposal to help stabilise the situation. The IFA dairy farm leader also highlighted the need to revisit the butter fat coefficient and that major flexibility would be necessary to assist farmers deal with any super levy bill following the ending of quotas next April.
IFA President Eddie Downey highlighted the urgency needed to get Ireland’s RDP plan approved in Brussels and welcomed the Commissioner’s commitment to do everything possible to fast track EU approval and to prioritise the simplification of the EU inspection and unworkable greening rules. Flexibilities for farmers wishing to participate in the new GLAS scheme were discussed and the importance of ensuring that the beef genomics scheme to the vital suckler herd highlighted.
The Commissioner reassured the IFA delegation that the future direction of the CAP would be to support working farm families and sustainable food production and that he hoped that early progress could be made in securing trade deals with countries such as Korea and Japan which would be good for Irish food exports.
The IFA President warned against any damaging concessions being made by Europe as part of a TTIP deal with America. Commissioner Hogan reaffirmed his commitment to work proactively to secure more equity for producers in the food supply chain and to address the escalating cost of farm inputs which is now having a very damaging impact on farm family viability.