While a no-deal Brexit agriculture fund is welcome in ‘Budget 2020’, there is “a lack of measures” to address the farm income crisis, according to the Fianna Fáil spokesperson on agriculture, Charlie McConalogue.
Deputy McConalogue said: “My party campaigned in advance of today’s budget for specific financial aid for the agri-sector due to the adverse impact of Brexit.
While the €110 million fund is a welcome step, disappointingly, there was no fund to cover beef price loses suffered since May.
“In addition, Minister Creed must at once clarify how much of €110 million fund will be ring-fenced for farmers.
“He must also outline the exact mix of grant aid, equity or loans contained in the fund for recipients,” McConalogue stressed.
“Regrettably, the budget has only modest measures to address the farm income crisis, which is very prevalent in the beef sector.
While an additional €20 million has been allocated to the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) in 2020, farmers will be very sceptical.
“A reply from Minister Creed confirms that no payments have been issued to over 19,000 beef farmers despite a €20 million allocation made to the BEEP scheme in last year’s budget.
This is very concerning and is another example of the Fine Gael Government making an announcement and failing to carry through in the delivery.
“Beef farmers are at their wits end with prices on the floor over the past 12 months.
“Funds announced today must be delivered rapidly as their income crisis deepens.
Minister Creed must also ensure that the €22 million of unused funds under the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure [BEAM] scheme stays with farmers.
“I will be seeking immediate further clarification from Minister Creed in the Dáil on the Brexit mitigation funds and will continue to highlight the need for the Government to recognise that immediate income support for farmers is required now.
“They must work with the European Commission to deliver the additional funds required to address the income crisis currently facing family farms,” concluded Deputy McConalogue.