1 SEPTEMBER 2016
ICSA president Patrick Kent has said the Teagasc report on the viability of Irish farms in 2015 shows just how serious the situation is especially for cattle and sheep farmers. “While Brussels has moved heaven and earth to deal with the dairy crisis, the Teagasc figures again emphasise that the cattle and sheep sectors are in real trouble. This emphasises that ICSA is absolutely correct to insist that the latest Brussels bail-out package cannot be exclusively for dairy farmers.”
“While 2015 was a tough year for dairy farmers with only 76% viable, this pales in comparison with only 20% viable suckler farms, 28% beef and 26% sheep. It must be remembered that the threshold for viability is calculated at a rock bottom level of minimum agricultural wage plus 5% return on investment. It is outrageous that the height of our ambitions for farmers is the minimum wage when you realise that most farmers are highly experienced and highly skilled.
The situation is even worse when you see that despite suggestions that farmers could make themselves sustainable by working two jobs, the report shows that over 40% of beef and sheep, and 36% of suckler farms are designated vulnerable because there is no off-farm income and the on-farm income does not give viability.
These are disgraceful statistics which suggest that greedy processors and retailers should hang their heads in shame. I am calling on retailers to address this issue in terms of their corporate social responsibility objectives and to explain to consumers why they are happy to exploit farmers in such a disgusting fashion. It is clear that it is the erosion of a viable pricing structure for the primary producer that is the central cause of these figures.
Mr Kent also hit out at input suppliers such as the fertiliser and chemical industries whose prices are increasingly out of line with what farmers can afford.
Mr Kent concluded by calling on the Minister for Agriculture to ensure cattle and sheep farmers get a fair share of the Brussels rescue package. “Apart from this measure, the Minister needs to move heaven and earth to get more live exports going as fast as possible, and restoration of the full disadvantaged area payment (now called ANC) must be fast tracked and made a key priority.”