“It is important that we address the need for additional support for the agricultural sector because, unfortunately, the response so far has not recognised the pressure that agriculture and farmers are under, particularly the pressure that the beef sector has experienced.”
Those were the words of Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, TD last week.
During a Dáil debate, he described the response at commission-level as “totally insufficient”, adding that there is significant market disturbance in place.
“Farmers, in particular beef farmers, are losing money. Finishers are losing up to €250 per head. There needs to be a real and immediate response to that.” he stressed.
‘Immediate visible hit’
In response, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, said: “On the beef issue, I accept that this sector has taken the immediate visible hit from Covid-19.”
He added that there have been consequences due to the closure of food services, not just domestically, but more significantly in the volume of food-service restaurants and hotels globally and within the European Union.
“We have been insisting that the European Commission is reminded of the common aspect of the Common Agricultural Policy.”
He also made reference to comments made by the National Farmers Union, NFU, about UK retailers stocking Irish beef, as reported by us here.
“Elsewhere, we have seen trends for the renationalisation of markets. We, and particularly our beef sector, would be the biggest losers within the European Union if that were to happen.”
“It is critical that we maintain that approach across the European Union. That is why we have led an initiative at European Union level.”
“Up to that point, its response had been that it would relax state aid rules and we could fix the problem ourselves. That is certainly something I was not happy with and there is now some movement on the issue. We need to see more, particularly under exceptional aid measures for the beef sector, and we continue to engage in that regard.