Sinn Féin claims Government is ‘failing farmers’ on Covid-19

The Government is “failing farmers” during the Covid-19 outbreak, according to one Sinn Féin TD.

Matt Carthy, a TD for the Cavan-Monaghan constituency, also heavily criticised the level of support on offer from the EU, saying it is “far short of the robust financial package required to protect Irish farmers during the coronavirus emergency”.

“Many Irish farmers, most of whom were in difficult circumstances before the coronavirus emergency emerged, have been left dumbfounded by the pathetic nature of the so-called supports put in place thus far,” Carthy claimed.

They were stunned with the inadequacy of the €76 million EU package and they were shocked that an Irish minister for agriculture would welcome it.

“It is clear that the EU will not provide the level of assistance that Irish farmers need at this time. Therefore, the Irish Government needs to introduce an emergency financial package for farmers at a domestic level,” the TD argued.

He believes that this support “should include the distribution to farmers of all unspent funds from the BEAM [Beef Exceptional Aid Measure] scheme and all other underspent resources within the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine”.

“But, crucially it will require new funding,” Carthy added.

Such an emergency package must be directed at those farmers who need it most, particularly in the beef and sheep sectors, and it must be a simple, un-bureaucratic scheme that puts monies into the hands of our family farmers who need it if they are to survive this crisis.

He highlighted: “This emergency has shown how important our family farmers are – to our economy and to our communities. We have a huge advantage in that we can produce more food on this island than we can consume.

“That is an advantage that our farmers should be benefitting from. Rural economies will not survive if our farmers don’t,” Carthy insisted.

The TD concluded his remarks by saying that farmers will be “pivotal” in a post-Covid-19 economic recovery, saying: “They will not be able to play that role if they don’t get government assistance in the immediate future.”