Reacting to the new TB compensation arrangements after a further meeting with Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine officials, the ICMSA Deputy President, Mr. Pat McCormack, said that the improvements to the TB Income Supplement Scheme and the inclusion of dairy farmers in the Hardship Scheme need to be introduced with immediate effect as any delay means that farmers will continue to lose heavily in terms of income losses and additional costs associated with a TB restriction. ICMSA has stated its support for the improvement to the Income Supplement scheme for dairy cows even if it still fell short in relation to full compensation for those farmers unfortunate enough to be restricted due to TB, but farmers cannot be expected to wait for an extended period of time for the new compensation to be implemented. We cannot have a situation where a farmer is left worse off in terms of income support because he was restricted before an arbitrary date set by the Department or the EU Commission. The improved payment terms under the Income Supplement and Hardship Schemes must be implemented immediately and bureaucracy at national or EU level must not be used as an excuse to delay it implementation.
In relation to the reduction in the EBI co-efficient from €1.35 to €0.50, Mr. McCormack said, that this is a serious retrograde step and is very disappointing and the Minister should review his decision on this matter as farmers are going to lose substantially under this proposal. The change in the EBI base that may be introduced by ICBF also needs to be accommodated and following the meeting, ICMSA is hopeful that the EBI co-efficient will be index linked and “inflated” if and when there is a reduction in the EBI. Dairy farmers have embraced the EBI concept and it would be totally unjustified and hugely disappointing to see a double reduction in EBI compensation if it is not inflated, concluded Mr. McCormack.