‘Immediate support needed for agricultural sector from EU’

Immediate support from Europe is needed for those in the agricultural sector whose income and ability to work has been severely impacted since the outbreak of the coronavirus, according to Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesperson Charlie McConalogue.

Commenting, the Donegal TD said: “It has been almost two weeks since the European Agriculture and Fisheries ministers meeting – and little to no progress has been made in terms of support for the agri-sector.”

‘Little to no progress’

Deputy McConalogue said the onus is on agri ministers and EU Commissioner Wojciechowski to announce the deployment of immediate market support measures and emergency aid funding for vulnerable farm sectors, but this has not materialised.

“Fianna Fáil has put forward workable solutions that can be implemented at European level to support farmers here in Ireland.

We want to see Commissioner Wojciechowski and his officials in the EU Commission immediately implement support measures that fall under their exclusive competence as provided under the CAP’s Common Market Organisation Regulation.

“These measures cover market disturbance funding, and exceptional aid measures under Articles 219 and 221,” the TD noted.

Unused BEAM funds

“We also need to see flexibility in farm schemes from the EU Commission,” deputy McConalogue said.

The TD said that the €25 million unused from the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme should be “deployed immediately” to support beef farmers who have seen beef prices drop in recent weeks as a result of a significantly weakened market.

There is also a need to immediately activate at EU level the option of APS (Aids to Private Storage) in order to support market prices and remove excess product.

“Decisive action is needed from the European Commission.

“It shouldn’t need to be said again that farmers are experiencing cash-flow difficulties, a reduction in trade, and growing limitations in how they conduct their operations day to day.

“European officials need to step up now and support the farming community,” deputy McConalogue concluded.