TD calls for market supports for farmers impacted by Covid-19 ‘headache’

An independent TD has added his voice to the calls for market supports for farmers who are impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Michael Fitzmaurice said that supports such as intervention and Aid to Private Storage were needed, citing the temporary closures of marts and fast-food restaurants that were announced this week.

The Roscommon-Galway TD said: “Beef prices in particular may come under pressure in the near future, as reports are emerging that processors are reporting a decreased demand for livestock as a result of restaurant and fast-food outlet closures forced by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Pairing this with the fact that sales at livestock marts are currently not going ahead, this represents a significant headache for farmers all around the country who need to sell or purchase stock in the immediate future.

Fitzmaurice also highlighted the potential impact on calf exports, saying: “There are thousands of calves being born on dairy farms right around the country at present. Quite a number of these would be destined for export in normal circumstances, but this virus has thrown a spanner in the works.

“If these calves fail to be exported in the coming weeks, it could have a lasting impact on the beef industry in Ireland,” the TD warned.

State aid

Fitzmaurice welcomed the decision by the European Commission to adopt measures to allow members states provide state aid of up to €100,000 for farmers, saying that the move is a positive “in these uncertain times”.

He called on Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed, and his department, to “do everything in their power to support farmers impacted by this virus outbreak”.

While livestock marts are closed presently, efforts are being made behind the scenes to come up with alternative solutions for farmers who wish to sell or purchase stock.

“Any initiative or measure which can be implemented to lessen the impact of this virus outbreak on farmers – of any enterprise – needs to be examined and put in place,” Fitzmaurice urged.

He concluded: “It is imperative that the food-supply chain is not interrupted”.