Fianna Fáil outlines ‘action plan’ for farmers and agri-food sector

Fianna Fáil has launched what it calls an “action plan to support farmers and the agri-food sector” in dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak.

Charlie McConalogue, the party’s spokesperson on agriculture, food and the marine, said the current health measures in place around the country were restricting economic activity and markets in the agri-food sector.

“Considering that we export 90% of all our dairy and beef internationally, this places a gigantic challenge in the present climate and will require direct market supports and compensation for losses incurred,” McConalogue argued.

The Donegal TD called on both the Government here and the European Commission to examine the party’s plan.

Among the key points contained in the Fianna Fáil plan is the “immediate delivery of an emergency crisis fund for farmers, especially those in vulnerable sectors, e.g, beef and sheep, to compensate for market losses via CAP [Common Agriculture Policy] market disturbance aid.

The plan also calls for the introduction of EU market supports, including intervention and Aid for Private Storage “in order to provide price supports for farm sectors impacted, e.g, meat and dairy”.

“It is vital that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has full engagement with the European Commission for farm scheme flexibility,” the plan goes on to outline.

The other main points of the plan are:

  • All 2020 scheme payment deadlines should be maintained, and flexibility given by the European Commission on issues such as inspections;
  • Non-essential inspection requirements should be suspended, and there should be no impact on payment dates;
  • Stocking density rules under the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) Scheme should be amended “so that all farmers do not come under pressure to purchase cattle immediately”;
  • The Government should avail of new EU state aid flexibilities to directly support farmers;
  • Flexibility should be shown in the awarding of the Green Cert this year;
  • Flexibility should be provided to marts to put in place alternative trading arrangements for livestock.

“It is essential that we now see the necessary supports put in place to enable [farmers and the industry] to continue with crucial work at a time of national and international emergency,” McConalogue argued.