Farm crisis meeting has not addressed the real issues – Carthy

Matt Carthy

An EU Council of Ministers' meeting to discuss how to remedy the farm income crisis has been branded a fauilure by Midlands North West MEP Matt Carthy.

Mr Carthy says the Irish government did not bring realistic proposals to the table, particularly in terms of intervention prices in the dairy sector.

Matt Carthy says while some proposals to assist the pigmeat sector are to be welcomed, the outcoime of this week's discussions is that many farmers will be forced off the land...............

Statement in full -

The Sinn Féin member of the European Parliament's Agriculture & Rural Development committee, Matt Carthy MEP, has described as wholly inadequate the outcomes of Monday's AGRIFISH Council meeting.  The Midlands Northwest MEP said that Irish farmers, particularly in the Dairy sector, would be disappointed with the outcome and especially by the Irish government's submission to the process.

Matt Carthy said:

"What the AGRIFISH Council agreed was akin to a sticky plaster for the gaping wound which is the Farm Income Crisis.  While the council was meeting to consider the difficulties faced in several agricultural sectors including the pig-meat and dairy sectors, I held discussions with representatives from the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) and the IFA who told me in no uncertain terms that the continued price volatility in several sectors could force farmers out of business.

"Dairy Farmers will be especially disappointed by the outcome of the council meeting.  Expectations for the meeting were already quite low given that, astonishingly, the Irish Government's submissions to the process made absolutely no reference to the need for short term intervention prices to alleviate the incredible strain that farmers are under.  This omission is staggering considering that an increase in the Intervention price would be the only tool available that could have an immediate positive impact on price.

"There is a need to look at the entire system of intervention and while the Irish government's position called for an increase in the quantitative ceiling this will never have the desired outcome for farmers so long as the product is going in at the lower intervention price.

"Although I welcome the Irish Government's calls for a reintroduction of the Private Storage Aid (APS) scheme for pigmeat, which was abolished after a mere 3 weeks of operation in January, we need to see more flexibility coming through in the implementation of these scheme for SMPs (Skimmed Milk Products), which so far in Ireland have seen declining uptake.

"Review measures for APS should focus on the length of time for products going into storage, the ability to withdraw products in case of a market up rise. Such flexibility is at the moment, missing.

"The Irish Department of Agriculture's focus is purely on temporarily increasing quantitative ceilings rather than addressing the very real problem of below-cost production shows that apathy for the effects of extreme market volatility is missing.

"The increase to EUR 15,000 in allowable annual state aid assistance is welcome but again is wholly inadequate without appropriate intervention support for farmers who have seen a 40% fall in prices since 2014.