Calls made for ‘direct payment without conditionality’ for producers

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has a duty of care to protect all farmers and producers – particularly during the current Covid-19 crisis, according to the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA).

The organisation as a result is calling for a “direct payment without conditionality” for primary producers.

INHFA president Colm O’Donnell stressed that Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed “must also ensure that not a single one of them goes to the wall as a result of the emergency measures introduced by Government in an effort to keep ahead of the Covid-19 virus”.

In a statement issued by the organisation after the teleconference stakeholders meeting with the minister, Department of Agriculture officials and other farm leaders. O’Donnell paid tribute to Government’s approach and welcomed the actions being taken within the Department of Agriculture to help farmers through “unprecedented times”.

However, the president said:

The closure of all livestock marts is a concrete example of market disturbance for the primary producers of suckler beef, sheep and lamb, as alternative outlets carry a high level of financial risk.

O’Donnell noted that farmers may be “forced to ride the storm” and carry additional livestock for several weeks or months.

He explained: “This is why the minister must act swiftly to ensure any extra costs and animal welfare concerns are catered for immediately.

“The INHFA has outlined to the minister that Article 219 of EU Commission Regulation (1308/2013) exists and makes provision for emergency urgency procedures to deal with unforeseen market disturbance.

“This must be enacted quickly to deal effectively and efficiently with such events,” he said.

O’Donnell added that he asked the minister to rigorously pursue this at his meeting with the European Commission “as a matter of the greatest urgency”.

A direct payment without conditionality must be secured to include all primary producers of beef, lamb and dairy.

“This will provide immediate financial support and ensure that the first link in the food supply chain remains intact and lets us as farmers keep producing safe, healthy nutritious food for all the citizens of our nation,” the president concluded.