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.”

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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.” 

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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.”
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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.”

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ICSA SAYS FARMERS WILL NOT CO-OPERATE WITH FURTHER BORD BIA BUREAUCRACY UNTIL BEEF PRICE GETS BACK TO A VIABLE LEVEL 

24 APRIL 2020

ICSA beef chairman Edmund Graham has said farmers will not dream of co-operating with Bord Bia proposals to add more bureaucracy until such time as beef price gets back up to a viable level which is well in excess of €4/kg. Mr Graham was commenting on reports that Bord Bia was planning a new farm climate credit scheme. 

“Farmers have been led up a garden path with quality assurance and traceability which has failed to deliver a fair price. Meanwhile, they see Chinese chicken for sale in supermarkets – with none of these bells and whistles – undermining their prices. As we have seen, even our own processors have substituted Irish beef with Polish beef in UK retail outlets.”

“Farmers are in no mood for adding costs and complexity to a business which is losing money. In particular, there is outrage at the notion of linking profit monitors to the process when we are still waiting for transparency on processor and retailer margins. It is particularly galling to see profit monitors brought into the equation when everybody knows that farmers are losing a fortune while processors and retailers continue to profit.

“They want our data for free and yet the data of processors and retailers is a jealously guarded secret. It is high time that state agencies realise that without the farmer, they would not exist.  Yet they seem to think they are only answerable to meat processors.” 

“It is completely unacceptable to be planning to bring a whole new raft of added cost and pretend that this will give us competitive advantage when we know that the only competitive advantage that processors and retailers care about is squeezing the primary producer and cheapening our quality product.”

“Until such time as beef goes back up to a viable price, there will be no co-operation with more red tape because farmers are in a battle to survive. This means reducing all unnecessary complications and costs, not signing up for a raft of new measures.  

It is outrageous that the first ICSA has heard of this proposal is in the media. This should have been brought to the Beef Taskforce which is rapidly heading towards irrelevance. Bord Bia needs to listen to the farmers who are funding it and ICSA is now calling for an immediate meeting of the Taskforce. The Minister must insist that the Taskforce is not side-lined any further.” 

ENDS

ALLOWANCES MUST BE MADE FOR BDGP PARTICIPANTS 

23 APRIL 2020

ICSA suckler chair Ger O’Brien has called on the Department of Agriculture to extend the deadline for compliance with the BDGP programme until 31 March 2021, due to Covid-19. “With the closing of marts and the lack of special sales taking place it is proving difficult for farmers to buy in the necessary stock and this must be taken into consideration,” he said.

“Many ICSA members have been receiving letters indicating whether they are currently on course to comply with or fall short of the targets laid out in the scheme. Our concern is with the inability of those who fall short of the targets at present to rectify their position in the current timeframe, given that we are in the midst of a global pandemic.”

“It must also be borne in mind that some farmers will be reluctant to buy in additional animals as they are simultaneously trying to reduce their stocking rate by 5% to comply with the BEAM scheme.”

“In addition, ICSA believes the rule that precludes calves born this year, who are genotyped either 4 or 5 star, from being included in the scheme should be waived. This could give farmers an opportunity to retain the necessary animals within their herd and avoid penalties.”

Concluding Mr O’Brien said, “We are on the final leg of this ambitious scheme and we must give farmers every opportunity to see the programme through to the end. There can be no justification for penalising farmers, who have committed themselves to the scheme over a five year period, for circumstances beyond their control.”

ENDS

EU PACKAGE FALLS VERY SHORT 

22 APRIL 2020

ICSA president Edmond Phelan has welcomed the announcement of Aids to Private Storage for beef and lamb but says that the overall effort from the EU falls very short of what is required.  “It is beyond belief that the EU continues to take such a laid back approach to the greatest economic catastrophe since 1929. The meat sector in particular is under immense pressure, due to the fact that prices were only beginning to improve from the disastrous lows of 2019.”

“The closure of food service across Europe has been spectacularly damaging to an export dependent sector like Irish beef. 31% of our production goes into food service and some of the manufacturing product also ends up in food service so anything that counteracts that has to be a step in the right direction.  

However, the real measure of APS will be whether it brings an improvement in prices to the primary producer. From a farmer’s perspective, beef price needs to rise substantially. At current prices, farmers will not feed cattle anymore.” 

“ICSA will be keeping the pressure on the government for a proper income support package for farmers which needs to be funded by extraordinary EU funding. Moving the deck chairs within the current CAP framework is not a serious effort to deal with an extraordinary crisis. Farmers are close to the brink in relation to cash flow and no business can endure without that. This needs to be a priority of government formation talks and it is disappointing that so little has been heard from any party in terms of Covid policies in respect of the farming sector.”

ENDS

MOVE TO REOPEN SUPERMACS OUTLETS WELCOMED BY ICSA

22 APRIL 2020

ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham has described the move by Supermacs to begin a phased reopening of their outlets as, “One small step that might boost beef demand as we struggle to cope with the impacts of Covid-19.”

Beginning today (22 April), customers will be able to avail of drive-thru, collection and delivery options from a number of Supermacs restaurants nationwide, in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

Continuing Mr Graham said, “We have to open restaurants and food service operations in a realistic time frame. Their closure has had devastating consequences, not only for their staff but for the wider economy and for the beef sector in particular. We also know that for every week they remain closed, those impacts are being compounded. Supermacs have always been a big supporter of Irish beef producers and we commend them for that and for taking this move now.”

The news comes on the back of the announcement by Lidl that it has secured a deal to supply an additional €14m worth of beef products for export purposes, in conjunction with Liffey Meats. “Again, this is some good news but ultimately for it to be of any real benefit to the primary producer, it is incumbent on Liffey Meats to pay a fair price to their suppliers. Farmers cannot be expected to continue producing at below the cost of production.” Mr Graham said.

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