Farmers ‘reassured’ by calibre of McGuinness at commission table – ICMSA

President of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) Pat McCormack, has offered the congratulations of his association to Mairead McGuinness on her approval by the European Parliament today, Wednesday October 7, as Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets.

McCormack said: “Obviously we don’t expect Commissioner-designate McGuinness to act in any national interest, but we hope and trust that her knowledge of farming and agri-food in general is going to mean that on issues like Brexit, climate change and CAP post-2020, she’ll bring that first-hand knowledge to bear and ensure that the sector that she knows best  – Irish farming and food – is not destroyed, either consciously or as collateral damage.”

The president said that farmers would feel ‘reassured’ that someone of Mairead McGuinness’s calibre occupied a position of such responsibility and potential.

In a secret ballot, 583 MEPs voted in favour of appointing Mairead McGuinness as a European Commissioner, 75 against and 37 abstained.

She was nominated for the role following the resignation of Phil Hogan and is expected to be formally appointed in the coming days, once the council approves the appointment.

Financial brief

Referring to her specific brief, the ICMSA president said he hoped that McGuinness would be able to use her new office to ascertain why farmers from her country were charged up to 3% more on interest for loans than their mainland European counterparts.

This is, he said, despite usually owing less, on average, and being able to offer full security on any loans through assignment of their land.

We’ve been asking the banks and our own Central Bank for years whether there was any reason for this penal interest rate and no-one seems disposed to answer.

“When her schedule allows, perhaps Commissioner-designate McGuinness could use her good office and insist on someone explaining why an Irish farmer has to pay several percent more for the exact same loan amount than his Danish, Dutch or French counterpart.

“No-one in Ireland seems bothered enough to explain but I think their attitude would be different if Mairead McGuinness was to ask,” said the ICMSA president.