Dairy Forum urges Minister to look at options for €15,000 State aid allowance

The Dairy Forum Sub Group is urging the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, to look at three possible uses for the new exceptional State Aid allowance of €15,000.

Last month, the European Commission announced a second package of aid measures to try and solve the dairy crisis.

One the measures was this temporary increase in state aid where the Commission said it would give full consideration to a temporary acceptance of state aid that would allow Member States to provide to a maximum of €15,000 per farmer per year and no national ceiling would apply.

IFA National Dairy Chairman Sean O’Leary said that this aid can be used to provide “loans or guarantees” to farmers without a requirement to reduce production.

He said that the IFA is urging the Minister to explore three possible uses for the aid:

  1. The provision of interest free/cheaper short term finance to “bridge liquidity gaps” (cash flow);
  2. The provision of a one-year moratorium on Superlevy repayments – as the EU has already received the full payment from the Member States;
  3. The provision of tax measures aiming at helping farmers to better manage highly volatile incomes, as proposed by IFA.

The Dairy Forum Sub Group met to find practical ways of supporting farmers as bad weather, late turnout and increased feed bills are stressing farmers’ pockets and confidence.

According to the IFA, all stakeholders, including the Department officials, gave a clear commitment to delivering practical financial planning advice and support to the farmers in greatest need.

In this context, O’Leary said it is necessary for Minister Coveney to explore every option to utilise the new temporary State Aid allowance.

“We are committed to participating with the other stakeholders to help ensure that the farmers in greatest need of short term financial support and advice are identified and assisted appropriately.

“Banks must be proactive in contacting customers early, and in offering flexible and reasonably priced short term finance to tide them over.”

Co-ops too will be aware of the financial difficulties of their suppliers, and must continue to support them by holding milk prices.

O’Leary said that the IFA is also totally committed to supporting the Farm Financially Fit initiative currently being developed by Teagasc.

“It will offer farmers workshops, farm walks and other interventions through which they will learn how to do a cash flow budget, and how to identify costs that can be cut without damaging the long term sustainability of their enterprise.

“We urge farmers to look out for those events, and to encourage friends and neighbours they know to be under pressure to consider participating,” he said.