DEMAND MORE FROM FACTORIES AS CATTLE NUMBERS REMAIN TIGHT – ICSA

15 MAY 2020

ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham has said despite the slight increase in cattle prices this week, processors have more to give. “The pressure is on the factories at the minute; markets are opening up and agents are competing for cattle. Reports are coming in that €3.70/kg is increasingly attainable for certain types of stock and with numbers still tight, the scope is there for farmers to look for that bit more on price. ICSA believes there is significantly more available,” he said.

“Demand at retail level continues to be up and McDonalds and other restaurant chains are coming back into play. ICSA also understands that with some beef exports from Australia to China suspended temporarily, factories here are on the lookout for Chinese spec cattle to fill any possible void. These factors coupled with the squeeze on numbers gives us a fighting chance at a decent price, but we’ll still have to fight for it.”

ENDS

FARMERS URGED NOT TO MISS OUT ON NEW AND IMPROVED BEEP-S SCHEME

13 MAY 2020

ICSA Suckler chair Ger O’Brien has urged farmers not to miss out on the new and improved BEEP-S scheme, and to get their completed applications in before Friday’s deadline (15 May). “Applying is simple; once you log in to your AgFood account the whole process should take a few minutes at most. A hard won extra €35m was pumped into the scheme in last year’s budget, so all suckler farmers need to get on board and secure this payment for their farms,” he said.

“The mandatory component of the scheme involves weighing cows and calves and will provide a payment of €50 per cow/calf for the first 10, and €40 each for the remainder. Through the optional actions, an additional €30 is available for either a pre-weaning meal feeding programme or for vaccinating stock. On top of this, another €10 is available for doing faecal egg testing on dung samples.”

“Suckler farmers who complete all the mandatory and optional actions under the scheme can therefore receive a total payment of €90 per cow for the first 10 cows and €80 for the remainder, up to a limit of 100 cows.”

“All in all, the measures required are sensible ones, and ones that will lead to less stress for calves at weaning time which in turn will benefit buyers, including Irish finishers and live exporters. Taking samples will also assist in ensuring that dosing is much more targeted and will help counteract immunity from dosing products.”

Concluding Mr O’Brien said, “In the face of relentless bad news, this is a scheme not to be missed.”

ENDS

ICSA CONCERNS ABOUT EU COMMISSION PROPOSALS ON COVID EMERGENCY FUNDING

12 MAY 2020
 
ICSA CONCERNS ABOUT EU COMMISSION PROPOSALS ON COVID EMERGENCY FUNDING 

ICSA president Edmond Phelan has expressed concern at a proposal emanating from the European Commission to raid the rural development (Pillar 2) budget to create emergency Covid funding for farmers and SMEs. “While ICSA is adamant that emergency funding for farmers is urgent owing to the devastating impact on markets caused by Covid, it is unacceptable to pretend that this proposal is actually helping. This proposal is effectively paying farmers to keep quiet with their own money.”

“In addition, while it provides for a maximum lump sum payment of €5,000 for a farmer, it also provides for up to €50,000 for an SME involved in the marketing of agri-produce. So to be clear, there will be less money in future rural development programmes for schemes like GLAS and TAMS if this proposal goes ahead. This is not helping farmers, it is simply taking from future income to prop them up today.”

“ICSA again reiterates that the Taoiseach needs to prioritise working with his EU counterparts to create an extraordinary fund for extraordinary times. We have the appalling scenario where a massive cut is being contemplated for the CAP which would be unacceptable even without the pandemic and the best the EU can come up with is to use this diminishing fund to deal with an unparalleled crisis. ICSA is calling on all parties to the government negotiations to set out their positions on how farmers should be assisted to cope with the disastrous impact of Covid-19.”

ENDS

EXPANDED ORGANICS SCHEME AND PUSH FOR NEW MARKETS ARE KEY TO MAXIMISE POTENTIAL

7 MAY 2020

ICSA Organics chair Fergal Byrne has said a twin-track approach is needed for the sector that would see more cattle and sheep farmers moving into organic farming, coupled with a determined effort to expand export markets for organic produce.

“At present we have approximately 2,000 organic farmers utilising just 1.5% of our total agricultural land. This is far too low and nowhere near in line with an expected shift in EU policy that would demand up to 25% of agricultural land to be farmed organically by 2030, as part of its Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy.”

“It is very apparent that we need to introduce a far more ambitious Organics Scheme that would include far greater numbers of cattle and sheep farmers. In parallel with this, a drive to secure adequate markets for our produce is vital. As it is, we are struggling to find markets for what is produced on just 1.5% of land, and achieve a return for the extra costs associated with farming organically.”

“Currently prices for organic cattle have slumped considerably, and with no let-up in organic feed input or other costs any added value we should be getting for our stock has all but disappeared. We cannot expect farmers to adopt new methods and increase their costs if the end price is just not there.”

“Organic produce, particularly organic beef and lamb, are high in nutrients and a rich source of natural antibodies. It is beyond comprehension that other countries have harnessed these attributes and expanded organic production and brought markets with them, yet we are falling so far behind. We know farmers are willing to get on board but we also need to see a concerted effort from Department of Agriculture, from Bord Bia and from our meat processors to drive this sector forward.”

ENDS

PROCESSORS MUST BE REQUIRED TO CEASE LIVE IMPORTS TO ACCESS APS

4 MAY 2020

ICSA sheep chair Sean McNamara has said processors must be required to verify they are not importing live lambs from the UK if they wish to access Aids to Private Storage (APS) supports. “It is illogical that processors availing of APS to store excess product could then get away with importing product to meet a demand they claim is not there,” he said.

“Factories clearly need to give an explanation as to why these imports are continuing and be held accountable. Farmers are fed up with this tactic of bringing in lambs to control prices paid to local producers. It is a cynical practice at the best of times, but it cannot be tolerated if done in conjunction with APS. ICSA will not stand for  processors claiming hand outs in bad faith as the rest of us struggle to keep our heads above water.”

ENDS

ICSA SAYS CAP EXTENSION IS IGNORING THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM ON FUNDING 

1 MAY 2020

ICSA president Edmond Phelan has welcomed the European Parliament Agriculture Committee’s position on extending the current CAP arrangements for up to two years but said that the real issue is the need for full funding for CAP in the period. “Of course, in the absence of agreement on a new CAP, we have to extend the current CAP. But it is bizarre that there is so little outrage that the threat of cut in CAP funding is still on the table. EU leaders are ignoring the elephant in the room. It is all very well agreeing to CAP extension but we need to see a resolution to the funding logjam.” 

“Given the unprecedented disaster posed by Covid-19, it is absurd to contemplate cuts to CAP funding. The Multiannual Financial Framework proposals which potentially involve a 12% cut need to be set aside. We cannot allow diminution of CAP payments for 2021 and 2022. Farmers across Europe are on the verge of going broke and it is totally unsatisfactory to see the lack of decisive action.”

“At last, the Farm Commissioner has admitted that a crisis fund, with extra funding from outside the CAP is required. ICSA has been saying this for weeks now and it is alarming that Europe continues to prevaricate on this. The heads of state need to stop messing around; we need money and quickly for farmers.” 

ENDS

BEEF TASKFORCE MUST STEP UP TO THE PLATE ON COVID CRISIS

1 MAY 2020

ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham has said confidence in the Beef Taskforce will be completely lost if it fails to tackle the crisis within the beef sector as a result of Covid-19. “We have been categorically let down by the Department of Agriculture’s failure to convene a meeting of the Beef Taskforce in response to these unprecedented challenges. Expecting farmers to continue to operate in a complete vacuum of information is inexcusable,” he said.

“Beef farmers are close to the brink in relation to cash flow and the lacklustre response from the EU has left many despairing. There is no future for producing beef at current prices and we have been looking to the Beef Taskforce to plot a way forward if the sector is to survive at all. This requires urgent input from all stakeholders.”

“Online conferencing platforms provide the means to convene the Taskforce but what we need now is a concerted effort from Minister Creed to make it happen.”

ENDS

HOLD OUT FOR BETTER PRICES AS CATTLE NUMBERS REMAIN TIGHT

1 MAY 2020

ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham has said cattle supplies remain tight and are likely to stay that way over the coming weeks. “With stock scarce, the days and weeks ahead provide an opportunity for farmers to fight for a decent price. Factories are actively looking for cattle, and will likely have to give a little to get them,” he said.

“Farmers should push for an extra 10c/kg at an absolute minimum for next week. We need to get the price moving up for once, and now is the time to do it while factories are hungry for supplies. This tightening in cattle numbers will continue well into the month of May so we need keep up pressure for a better return.”

ENDS

FARMERS URGED TO RESIST PROCESSOR TACTICS AROUND PRICE CUTS

28 APRIL 2020
ICSA sheep chair Sean McNamara has said processors are continuing to toy with producers in a cynical effort to flush out supplies and drive down prices. “Farmers must resist this ploy and hold out for prices,” he said.
“Ramadan only began on 23 April and continues until 28 May but factories would have us believe that demand has disappeared since Sunday with some factories not even quoting for tomorrow. Yet all the while, sheep and sheep products continue to be sourced from Britain and Northern Ireland to the detriment of local suppliers. It makes no sense.”
“It is simply not the case that demand has suddenly gone away and with supplies remaining tight there is no justification for cutting prices. It is gamesmanship on the part of the processors to exact as much pressure as possible on hard pressed farmers and it must be resisted.”
ENDS

DROUGHT CONDITIONS AND COVID-19 CREATE PERFECT STORM FOR TILLAGE SECTOR

24 APRIL 2020
ICSA Tillage chair Gavin Carberry has said the lack of rainfall during the month of April will impact yields and compound difficulties for the sector over the coming months. “Yields are very likely to be down significantly due to this extended dry period, and if we couple that with the expected fall in price as a result of Covid-19, we have the makings of a perfect storm,” he said.

“Met Eireann data indicates that average rainfall for April is well below average, particularly in the northern half of the country. Places where we would normally expect an average of 60mm for the month have seen less than 10mm so far. We saw this in 2018 when drought conditions hit the yield hard but at least we were able to achieve a relatively decent price for what we had. This will not be the case in 2020 however.”

‘Market disruption from Covid-19 is wreaking havoc; demand for malting barley from the drinks sector has been severely impacted, and will in turn add pressure on the feed market. None of this bodes well for the sector, and ICSA does not want to see tillage farmers left out when it comes to support measures from the Government or the EU.”

ENDS