Following a meeting with Minister Simon Coveney at today’s EU Agriculture Council meeting in Brussels, IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin said while some positive measures have been announced, further action is required to address the growing income crisis across all farming sectors, and most acute in the dairy, grain, pigmeat and livestock sectors. He stressed that the immediate suspension of import tariffs on fertiliser would reduce the price by up to 14% and save Irish and European farmers over €1bn in unnecessary input costs.
On dairy, Jer Bergin welcomed the doubling of the EU intervention ceilings for SMP and butter, which will allow continued buying in at full intervention price, the flexibility under the cheese Private Storage scheme, a new model of export credit insurance which is to be introduced, and the commitment of greater promotional support for exports to third countries. He urged Minister Coveney to use the temporary increase in allowable state aid to €15,000 per year per farmer to advance IFA’s taxation proposals to deal with income volatility.
However, Jer Bergin urged the Minister to pursue greater flexibility under the enhanced APS powder scheme and to secure at least one year’s suspension on superlevy repayments to ease cash flow pressures on dairy farms. He said the Minister is rightly resisting any EU mandatory supply control measures or EU funding of any voluntary supply reductions which would be ineffective in influencing milk prices and totally contrary to the legal abolition of milk quotas.
Jer Bergin acknowledged that both Commissioner Hogan and Minister Coveney supported IFA’s position that there is no justification for utilising the EU Crisis Fund in the current income crisis across all sectors, when this Fund is financed from a deduction in every farmer’s Basic Payment.
The IFA National Chairman said EU import tariffs on fertilisers are driving up input costs and seriously damaging the competitiveness of EU farmers. He urged Minister Simon Coveney and Commissioner Phil Hogan to actively pursue the suspension of these tariffs, which would provide some badly needed relief for Ireland’s hard-pressed grain growers, and farmers across all sectors.
Jer Bergin also called on Minister Coveney to secure speedy approval for amendments to Ireland’s Rural Development Programme on TAMS investment grant aid for tillage farmers and sheep farmers.
Jer Bergin welcomed the commitment to further Private Storage aid support for more products in the pig sector. However, he said it was unacceptable that European farmers were taking the hit for political and economic sanctions decided by the EU against Russia, and he urged the Commissioner to go all out to obtain a reversal of the Russian ban.