The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has called on Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to make a one-off lump sum payment to cattle and sheep farmers who are struggling due to the ongoing input crisis.

IFA Rural Development Committee chair Michael Biggins said that payment could be made from the EU Crisis Reserve Fund.

Biggins said that the exceptional one-off lump sum announced by the EU Commission last week is effectively “robbing Peter to pay Paul”, as the proposal only moves Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Pillar II money from 2024/25 to 2023.

He said it doesn’t propose any new additional funding from the EU, which is badly needed.

The proposed measure could be worth up to €15,000/farmer or €100,000/rural business.

The EU Commission noted that increases in the price of energy, fertiliser and animal feed are disrupting the agricultural sector and rural communities, leading to liquidity and cashflow problems for farmers and small rural businesses.

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“Farmers have been told there is over €15 million from the EU Crisis Reserve Fund and it can be topped up with national exchequer funding by up to 200%, which would bring it close to €50 million,” Biggins said.

“There’s no indication if this co-financing will happen or what kind of supports are potentially going to be made available from the co-financed funds,” he added.

The IFA chair said that the extraordinary rise in input costs is making production unsustainable.

“Already low margins for most farmers are being further eroded as a consequence of these increased input prices,” he stated.

Michael Biggins proposed three actions for Minister Charlie McConalogue:

  • Provide the allowed rate of 200% national co-financing to top up the EU Crisis Reserve;
  • Urgently make arrangements to pay the crisis reserve funding in the form of a one-off lump-sum in direct support to cattle and sheep farmers;
  • Commit additional national exchequer funding to the Pillar II budgets for 2024/25 to fund any potential deficit in those years which could arise from this exceptional measure.

The IFA Rural Development Committee chair added that if food security is to be guaranteed, then farmers need adequate support from the Commission to ensure they survive this crisis.

“The EU should come forward with a significant package for farm families,” Biggins concluded.