Urgent government action is needed to counteract the serious damage being done to farming enterprises in the beef and mushroom sectors at present.
This is the opinion of IFA (Irish Farmers’ Association) President Joe Healy, following the recent nosedive in valuation of the sterling currency.
Healy said: “Sterling has been falling since April, when the UK general election was called it was at 85p:€1. The decline has accelerated in recent weeks, with sterling falling to 93p:€1 by the end of August.
“The beef and mushroom sectors are coming under intolerable price pressure as a result of this decline,” the president added.
“The government cannot afford to wait any longer to provide direct support for beef farmers and mushroom growers who are being impacted today by the sterling depreciation.
Unless action is taken promptly, irreparable damage may be caused to the viability of beef farmers and mushroom producers.
Healy noted: “I have written to Minister Michael Creed to highlight the need for urgent government and EU action.
“It is imperative that the government now seek EU support for farm-level measures that will counteract the price drops being experienced, which are arising directly from the sterling depreciation, independent of other normal market forces.
“IFA clearly signalled the need for this support at our Brexit event in April, in the event of the kind of significant sterling devaluation that has now occurred,” he added.
Firstly, direct support is needed at EU level for affected producers through CAP Market Support measures, with support sought under Article 221 of the Single CMO (Common Market Organisation), which provides the commission with the authority to deal with “specific problems”, the organisation has said.
In addition, the IFA says a share of the crisis reserve fund should be used to provide direct support to farmers. The crisis reserve is intended to provide additional support for the agricultural sector in the case of major crises affecting agricultural production or distribution.
An increase in EU State Aid De Minimis limits to target support at the mushroom sector is also sought.
• Delivery of low-cost loans that are available to all sectors of farming, including the mushroom sector;
• Increased funding support for the Areas of Natural Constraint, Beef Data and Genomics Programme and the Sheep Welfare Scheme;
• Increased funding for the TAMS farm investment programme and the scheme of investment aid for commercial horticulture.