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‘Beef farmers are at breaking point’

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Mairead McGuiness, MEP and First Vice-President of the European Parliament, has urged the EU commissioner to revise the measures set out to help the agri-sector during COVID-19.

McGuiness warned that the €25 million designated to the storage of meat is insufficient to the sector.

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The MEP said: “The commissioner rightly acknowledged that the beef sector, in particular, was fragile before the COVID-19 crisis. Today I informed him that that fragility has now escalated to a situation where beef farmers are at breaking point as the full impact of the closure of the food services market takes hold.”

She said that although any support offered is welcomed, it needs to be of a sufficient scale and duration as price prices have fallen with simply no market for a number of cuts.

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“Equally, I impressed upon the Commissioner that the APS (Aid to Private Storage) scheme must be flexible in order to allow specific cuts to be offered for storage but to continue to allow cuts that can be sold to make it onto the marketplace,” McGuiness continued.

Single market

The Irish politician also expressed concern about development in a particular member state, where the Government is naming and shaming companies importing dairy produce from other EU member states.

As a result of this, she has urged the commissioner to ensure that the single market operates without disruption.

“Ireland as a major exporter of food onto the EU single market should be concerned about efforts to renationalise the food market.”

“The Commissioner is keen on supporting local markets, suggesting that we need to refocus on local markets and EU food security. He also referred to the transportation of food with 3 billion tonnes moving every year within the EU.”

“Limiting the transport of food is likely to be part of the as yet unpublished farm to fork strategy. Ireland, as a major exporter, needs to be aware of the implications of these proposals,” she warned.

Safety of workers

Separately, the MEP said the processing of agriculture produce has continued without interruption through the current crisis. She commended the commitment of workers in this sector to maintain operations during this time.

“With COVID19 still persisting in the community, it is very important that the processing sector has in place all measures to ensure the health of workers and allow the plants to continue to operate.

“We are hearing alarming stories from around the globe about processing plants unable to operate due to the COVID19 crisis. The safety of workers is paramount,” she concluded.

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