In a clear warning to the EU Commission and the Farm Council in advance of a major protest by farmers in Brussels tomorrow (Mon), IFA President Eddie Downey said the food chain is broken, with below-cost selling by retailers and input cartels squeezing the viability from productive farm businesses, which are already under severe pressure from depressed and volatile commodity markets.
He said, “It is critically important that Ministers step up at tomorrow’s meeting with a strong declaration that Europe will ban below-cost selling of food and address the excessive input costs imposed on farmers. It is vital that Farm Ministers take action to ensure the EU Single Market is working properly”.
The IFA President said input providers will have to reduce their costs and take their share of the pain in helping farmers through this income crisis, and the Commission and Farm Council should insist on this.
Eddie Downey said the EU Commission must use the fund of over €800m in surperlevy fines to support dairy farmers through this crisis, which has been largely created by political interference in the markets and the Russian ban. He said it is unacceptable that European farmers are expected to carry the cost of the consequences of political decisions.
“Export refunds for pigmeat and a re-opening of the Russian market are needed to address the loss-making situation for pig farmers. Grain farmers across Europe are experiencing their third successive year of prices below the cost of production. The political establishment needs to wake up. Their failure to rein in speculative investment in agricultural commodities and tackle fertiliser price cartels is compounding the situation. Farm families cannot ride out the boom/bust cycles resulting from speculative investment.”
Mr Downey said the 70% proposed advance on the Basic Payment demanded by IFA will be a boost for cashflow on income-strapped farms. He said normally farmers get a 50% advance on their payments on 16th October, but because of the income crisis situation, the Commission is proposing to increase this to 70%. “The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has to ensure the 70% advance includes the Basic and Greening payments, and that all other EU payments are made on time.” The remaining 30% will be due on 1st December.