ICSA: New state aid limit will not cover beef losses

Following today’s announcement that the limit on state aid for farmers would be increased, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) has aired its doubts that it will be enough on its own.

Patrick Kent, the association’s president, said that the increased limit does not reflect the “absolute devastation” that would result from a hard Brexit on the beef sector.

Kent warned that: “Increasing the three year state aid limit from €15,000 to €25,000 would barely cover the losses already incurred by a sector where beef price is down €200 per head on certain categories of cattle, such as bull beef.”

Earlier today (Friday, February 22), the European Commission announced that the limit on how much a member state could provide to each farmer in aid (without the commission’s approval) would be increased from €15,000 to €25,000. This new limit applies over the course of three years.

“However, if there is a no-deal Brexit and the UK applies full World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs to beef imports, then the state aid announcement will not even remotely cover beef losses. In that case, the Irish Government will have to demand a comprehensive EU package to add extra state aid,” said Kent.

Kent added that he and his colleagues in the ICSA met with EU officials during this week, where he said the case was made “very strongly” that Brexit was Europe’s problem.

Talking about solidarity between the EU-27 is fine, but meaningless unless it is backed up by extra funds. Irish beef farmers did not cause Brexit, and they cannot be expected to carry the can.

“While Ireland is committed to the EU, such commitment must be reciprocated to protect Irish farmers,” concluded Kent.