The Rural Independent Group of TDs has called on the government to acknowledge the rising costs of inputs, and come forward with an emergency aid package for farmers, similar to that in other EU countries.

Independent TD for Cork South-West Michael Collins, has said that the government needs to “provide emergency financial aid to farm families as the cost of feed, fertiliser and fuel continue to skyrocket, threatening the viability of Irish farms”.

He stated that data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) this week estimates that agricultural input costs increased by 26% in 2022 to approximately €7.7 billion.

In a statement, he said that he and his colleagues in the group are calling for a similar aid package to the €300 million package which was recently approved by the Spanish government, to support the country’s farmers.

Spain came forward with the package last month, in an effort to maintain the profitability of its agricultural sector amid soaring fertiliser prices.

Those who own permanent crop farms in Spain will be able to draw down a maximum payment of €22/ha on rainfed areas and €55/ha on irrigated areas.

“The Spanish package involves direct payments benefitting 250,000 farmers. We are calling for a similar package.

“We are also urging the government to immediately implement a specific sheep scheme, with a minimum payment of €30/ewe,” said Deputy Collins.

Deputy Collins said the latest figures show that farmers “across all sectors have been struggling to cope with unprecedented and crippling costs of essential inputs, such as feed, fertiliser and fuel”.

He said that fertiliser prices nearly doubled last year, with a 195% increase in prices from mid-2021 and pointed out the rise in feed costs, which increased by 29%.

Meanwhile, “energy and fuel costs were over 45% higher, with farmers spending €662 million on this vital input”, he added.

“Despite these soaring input costs, basic sales prices for produce and livestock failed to match them,” said the deputy.

“The recent Ifac annual farm report further highlights the dire impact of the cost-of-living crisis and input inflation on farm families, with 75% of respondents identifying input prices as their biggest worry for 2023.”

However, he said that this “alarming data continues to be ignored or wished away by the government”.

“Despite the accumulated increase in input costs, minister for agriculture Charlie McConalogue has failed to provide any comparable support for Irish farmers.

“The Rural Independent Group is therefore urging the government to wake up to the urgent need for emergency aid and support Irish farmers,” concluded the deputy.