16 MAY 2019
ICSA beef chairman Edmund Graham has said that it is now vital that Minister Michael Creed engages in consultation with farm organisations on the means of distributing the €100 million Brexit package with a view to ensuring the money is with farmers as soon as possible.
“ICSA has welcomed the announcement which follows on from extensive ICSA lobbying which kicked into gear at the ICSA AGM in January. ICSA had a detailed discussion with senior members of Commissioner Hogan’s cabinet in February in Brussels where ICSA zoned in on the need for a package regardless of whether it was a no-deal Brexit or not.”
“A Brexit Support package for farmers was also a key component of ICSA’s submission on the Future of Beef in the Context of Foodwise 2025 which was submitted on 20 March. ICSA had analysed the price differential between cattle prices in 2015 and cattle prices in a 2019 post-Brexit world. This identified that Irish beef farmers were losing up to €4 million weekly due to Brexit related price cuts, and had been doing so since last autumn. ICSA had previously highlighted the devastation that Brexit was causing the beef sector when we were the first farm organisation to protest beef price cuts outside meat factories last October.”
“In April, ICSA met Commissioner Hogan in Brussels where we got the message across to the Commissioner that Brexit had already happened for beef farmers. At that meeting, the Commissioner accepted the ICSA argument and committed to doing his very best to get emergency funding agreed by EU Budget Commissioner Oetttinger. ICSA followed that up with a detailed meeting with Minister Creed in Dublin.”
“We acknowledge the efforts of the Minister and the Commissioner to make this happen. However, it is now essential that plans and resources are in place to make sure that the money is delivered to farmers as soon as possible. In our view, there is no way we could accept payments being delayed until the autumn. We would see July 31 as the absolute deadline for all monies to be in farmers’ accounts having regard to the challenges of deciding the carve-up and making sure that systems are up and running to deliver the payment. While we are heartened by the Taoiseach’s commitment to pay within weeks, consultations with farm organisations must start as soon as possible, and in any event immediately after the EU elections.”