Government should implement FF action plan to support Farmers and Agri-food sector – Smith

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says an action plan published by Fianna Fáil detailing immediate measures needed for farmers and the agri-food sector to deal with the impact of the current coronavirus outbreak should be implemented by government.

“While public health is paramount it is imperative our farming communities and agri-food sector is supported during this time. Farmers in Cavan-Monaghan have stepped up to support their communities and ensure the safety of the food supply chain. Now they need our support.

“Farmers in Cavan-Monaghan have endured a difficult 18 months with low beef prices, the uncertainty of Brexit, and the proposed South American trade deal. Now, the unprecedented challenge of a global pandemic has changed the industry entirely.

“My party and I are calling on Commissioner Wojciechowsk, the government and Minister Creed and his European counterparts to examine the following measures to protect farmers and the Agri-food sector as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.

  • Immediately deliver an emergency crisis fund for farmers, especially those in vulnerable sectors e.g. beef and sheep, to compensate for market losses via CAP market disturbance aid.
  • Introduce EU market supports i.e. intervention and Aid for Private Storage in order to provide price supports for farm sectors impacted e.g. meat and dairy.
  • Vital that the Department of Agriculture has full engagement with the European Commission for farm scheme flexibility in light of Covid-19.
  • All 2020 scheme payment deadlines must also be maintained, and flexibility given by the EU Commission on issues such as inspections.
  • Suspend the need for any non-essential inspection requirements and ensure that there is no impact on payment dates.
  • Amend the stocking density rules under the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme so that all farmers do not come under pressure to purchase cattle immediately.
  • Avail of new EU state aid flexibilities to directly support farmers. Member States are now allowed to draw up schemes to directly grant-aid those active in the primary production of agricultural products to address urgent liquidity needs up to the value of €100,000 per undertaking.
  • Flexibility to be shown in the awarding of the Green Cert this year.
  • Ensure that necessary flexibility is provided to Marts to put in place alternative trading arrangements for livestock during the crisis period.

“It is essential that we now see the necessary supports put in place to enable those in the farming sector in the Border Region to continue with this crucial work at a time of national and international emergency,” concluded Deputy Smith.