Dairy aid package could fund a €1,200 flat payment per dairy farmer – ICMSA

Ireland’s €11.1m funding allocation from the recent EU aid package could be used to provide dairy farmers with a direct payment of €1,200, the ICMSA has proposed.

This is permissible under the regulations and would provide a level of support to dairy farmers during an extremely difficult period, President of ICMSA, John Comer, has said.

Comer has said that biggest single issue facing dairy farmers this year is income and ICMSA also wants the Irish government to 100% match the €11.1m funding.

The ICMSA President categorically rejected the idea of leveraging the Irish allocation into low-cost loans and instead proposed paying the money directly to milk suppliers and by-passing other less effective and more cumbersome routes.

“ICMSA is proposing that this funding is used to provide dairy farmers with a direct payment of €1,200.

“Unlike other sectors, there are no coupled support schemes in place for dairy cows comparable to the BDGP in place for suckler cows and the new sheep payment being introduced.

“In terms of direct support, dairy farmers have lost out heavily since the Budget cuts in 2009 and it might be time to look at a coupled payment for dairy cows similar to that available for suckler cows.”

But, in the short term, the funding available from the dairy crisis package should be directed to dairy farmers in an administratively simple fashion and most certainly should not be used to establish low interest loans as that effectively translates to a bank subsidy.

As far as ICMSA is concerned, Comer said that the idea that funding to address a dairy crisis would be hijacked and end up with the banks is just astonishing and unacceptable.

“If the Government want to involve the banks in helping dairy farmers they could try convincing them to charge competitive rates.

“We cannot and should not use crisis funding for farmers to subsidise banks that are now again making profits in the billions again,” he said.

The President of ICMSA also warned against any complacency that the dairy crisis is over.

Comer said that what he called “the back patting” that followed a 1c/L increase for July milk now needs to stop and the sector must move decisively towards price ranges above the cost of production.

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