Calls for meat processors to make electronic payments to farmers

Meat processors have been called on to make electronic payments direct to farmers’ bank accounts for cattle supplies, particularly in light of Covid-19.

Des Morrison, the livestock chairperson of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), said that such a system should be voluntary for farmers if they wished to avail of it, but that every processor should have the capacity to offer it.

Although Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has not confirmed any position on electronic payments, Morrison told AgriLand: “It’s not rocket science.

Every farmer with a single farm payment has a bank account. Single farm payments go direct into bank accounts. Milk cheques go direct into bank accounts.

Morrison argues that electronic payments are even more important at the present time, given the restrictions associated with Covid-19, such as the need to maintain social distancing and reducing close contact with other people.

Another key concern for Morrison is the possible temporary closures of bank branches as a result of changing work environments at this time.

The ICMSA livestock chairperson believes that bank branches in smaller rural towns were more likely to close than those in other locations.

An electronic payments system would save people from travelling long distances to collect payment, Morrison pointed out.

“It should be available always, and should be optional for farmers. Most farmers would go for it,” Morrison remarked.

“We’re in different times and different circumstances,” he highlighted.

‘Key policy measures’

Earlier this week, the ICMSA called for “key policy measures” to be delivered “immediately to stabilise food markets”.

Speaking following a conference call on Tuesday, March 24, with Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and the leaders of other farm organisations, ICMSA president Pat McCormack said the most specific danger in the agriculture sector is the threat of farmers falling ill and the huge challenge presented by sourcing replacement labour.

The next key issue is keeping farmers going through the current ‘seizing up’ of the normal economy, McCormack added.