Young farmers have been the worst affected by the current crisis in the dairy sector and as such any supports should be targeted at the group, according to Macra na Feirme President, Sean Finan.
Finan made the calls at the first meeting of the Dairy Forum which took place in the Department of Agriculture this week.
“Young farmers have clearly been worst hit by the crisis. Unlike their more established counterparts, young farmers have not had the capacity to build up reserves to allay some of the worst impacts of the crisis.
“Furthermore, in many cases young farmers have borrowed significant amounts of money from banks to invest in their business future.
Finan said it is precisely for these reasons that the roll out of the package of dairy measures agreed at the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers on September 15 should prioritise young farmers.
“At the dairy forum I called for a 50-100% top up payment for young farmers above the standard payment that may be agreed for established farmers,” Finan said.
Finan called for clarification of why the mooted income volatility measure was precluded from being examined under state aid rules at the meeting. He said volatility was a huge issue for all farmers and said the measure could go some way to elevating the worst aspects of the phenomenon.
The young farmer leader also said he expects a decision to be made soon on how Ireland’s €14m allocation from the EU dairy package will be distributed.
Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney hosted the first Dairy Forum for stakeholders in the sector.
The forum has been established by the Minister to focus on strategic issues for the development of Ireland’s dairy sector.
Attendees were drawn from the farming, processing and banking sectors, with representatives from Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, the Environmental Protection Agency, Teagasc, Animal Health Ireland, and the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) also attending.