Primary producers of beef and lamb must be included as part of a rescue package for Irish agriculture in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
That’s according to president of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA), Colm O’Donnell, who made the statement in advance of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Council of Ministers meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, March 25th).
“Emergency procedures must be triggered by the European Commission supported by both the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.”
“Those legislative bodies need to adopt delegated acts in order to react effectively and efficiently against the threat of market disturbance which, is now impacting on all farm enterprises.”
Agricultural crisis reserve
The farm leader said that the EU Commission must unlock its agricultural crisis reserve and use its Common Market Organisation (CMO) regulation to draft urgency procedures “without delay”.
“The first link in the food supply chain is the primary producer, whether it be milk and cheese from the dairy sector, beef from our suckler cow or lamb from our ewe flock.”
“All must be treated fairly and must now be given an emergency financial lifeline which must be diverted immediately back to the source of production and include all types of enterprise.”
O’Donnell pointed out that under Article 219 of EU regulation 1308/2013, the Commission is empowered to utilise emergency procedures which can provide direct support to farmers without the conditionality that accompanied the €100 million Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM).
This, the INHFA president concluded, saw an underspend of almost a quarter of the allocation, with €24 million “sent back to Brussels”.