Letter to the editor: ‘What if a farmer has to hire someone…to do his or her work?’

As a beef farmer, I feel some measures should be put in place for us – during this [coronavirus] crisis.

The announcement of a €4 million fund, up from €1.5 million, for equipment for calf welfare is very welcome, but beef farmers need to be safe-guarded too.

Farmers up and down the country are already in a distressed state in the midst of this [Covid-19] pandemic, without the added worry of factories dropping meat prices.

Having fewer outlets through which to sell cattle compounds the problem, though it is good news to hear that marts can ‘reopen’ – albeit in a limited way – to facilitate the movement of cattle.

‘Bills still need to be paid’

It is imperative that the price of beef is brought back up to €3.70/kg – from €3.50/kg – immediately. People still need to eat – here, in the UK and across Europe.

In the midst of the current crisis, I can’t see meat being imported from China and Brazil into the UK and mainland Europe. You would, therefore, imagine that there could be big demand for high-quality, Irish meat.

In the meanwhile, bills still need to be paid. Farmers in every sector need to be protected. They, like anyone else, can also fall prey to Covid-19…and become ill.

Farming is an ‘essential service’. Measures must be put in place to deal with the financial impact if a farmer needs to hire somebody to do his or her work. Unless such measures are put in place, there will be too much pressure – both financially and mentally – on farmers!

A surge is forecast with regard to this pandemic. It looks like things will get worse before they get better; we need to act now.

I – like others I would imagine – have emailed my concerns to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. I – like others – await a favourable response.

From Helen O’Sullivan, Co. Cork