‘Precipitous’ drop in cattle and milk prices if no-deal Brexit prevails – McNamara

Independent TD Michael McNamara said he expects a “precipitous” drop in cattle and milk prices if a no-deal Brexit prevails.

Voicing his concerns during a Dáil debate on Brexit, the deputy expressed his hope that there will be a deal, which is “in the interests of all our people on these islands and indeed those in the wider EU”.

“Our trade links are essential to protect, certainly as much, if not more so, in agriculture than any other sector,” he stated. 

“I represent a farming constituency and I am also a farmer. I expect that there will be a precipitous drop in the prices of cattle and milk in a few weeks time if a trade deal is not done.

“I am sure the Minister of State [Thomas Byrne] will have his own [Fianna Fáil] backbenchers calling on the government for compensation, but nothing can compensate for being able to trade.”

MacManus ‘demands BEAM scheme participants get the support they need’

In other news, MEP Chris MacManus said he “demands BEAM [Beef Exceptional Aid Measure] scheme participants get the support they need”.

The Sinn Féin MEP and member of the European Parliament Agricultural Committee said he is “demanding the Department of Agriculture” to reach out to the BEAM scheme participants.

MacManus’ comments come in response to “widespread confusion from scheme participants”, if they are on course to meet the 5% nitrates reduction target.

MacManus said:

“The €100 million BEAM was established to support farmers who were facing spiralling losses, due to a slash in the prices they were being offered for stock. However, from the start, this scheme has been a nightmare for many farmers.

“At the last minute, a decision was made to include a 5% nitrates reduction as part of the conditionality. In reality, this meant herd reductions by the backdoor.

The European Commission and Irish government pointed the finger at each other as to who was responsible. We are now dealing with the out-workings of this shambles.

“Any farmer who fails to meet the 5% herd reduction [could] be penalised 100% of the money they received, meaning some farmers could be asked to pay back between €5,000 and €10,000. Understandably, this is causing significant anxiety among participants, who are unsure exactly where they stand.

“In September, Minister McConalogue said he would ensure all farmers were given the appropriate data to see if they are on track. Data was provided but in a format which, many farmers feel, is unclear.”