11 March 2016
Patrick Kent, president of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has said the association will totally oppose any use of the crisis reserve fund to support dairy farmers. Mr Kent has written to Minister Coveney setting out the ICSA observations on the market situation which is a key agenda item at the forthcoming (March 14th) Farm Council meeting in Brussels.
“There can be no logic or justification for confiscating money from beef and sheep farmers’ to alleviate the income crisis in the dairy sector. It is well known that dairy incomes are on average three times that of cattle and sheep farmers. It makes no sense at all for cattle and sheep farmers to financially prop up dairy farmers when we remain such a long way behind in terms of annual income.” The crisis reserve fund is made up of deductions from the Basic Payment of all farmers, on amounts exceeding €2,000. Farmers are entitled to a refund if it is not used.
“We had an EU rescue package in 2015 for dairy farmers which was matched to the tune of €14m by a government top-up.”
ICSA believes that the Farm Council needs to focus on the need for regulation of the food chain. “We need a regulator who will have the power to audit the food chain and shine a light on who is making the money further down the food chain. Consumers pay enough to ensure a fair price for the primary producer but the money is being grabbed somewhere by processors and retailers. It is now time for the EU to get serious about this rather than just robbing farmer Peter to pay farmer Paul.”
ICSA is supportive of proposals to examine the lack of competition in the fertiliser markets and has also criticised import tariffs on phosphates and potash.
On the other proposals, ICSA has said that support for voluntary reduction in production may not be a bad idea as long as there is nothing compulsory involved. While this is a French proposal relating to dairying, Mr Kent said that it might be time to look at something similar for beef.