The Independent Farmers of Ireland (IFoI) is calling on the Government to enact a raft of measures, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to sweep across the island of Ireland.
In a statement to this publication, an IFoI spokesperson outlined that it is “acutely aware” of the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic to farmers and all who live in rural communities.
It is calling on the Government and the Minister to suspend all on-farm inspections by state agencies and their servants for an initial period of 90 days.
The spokesperson stressed that any suspension of farm inspections must not come at the expense of delays to the issuance of direct payments, TAMS grants.
“Furthermore, all quality assurances certificates due to expire must be extended automatically for the duration of the crisis and all VAT refunds due to eligible farmers are expedited to alleviate financial hardship for our members.”
€4.17/kg for beef
“Meat processors, who engage in opportunist price cuts, need to be held to account by the Government in the strongest possible way for such an action of financial cruelty.”
IFoI stated that it would view such action as a “kick in the teeth” to hardworking farmers, who “work night and day to keep the country fed” through a time of national and international crisis.
To “ensure against such opportunism”, the IFoI is calling on the Government to instate a “floor base price” of €4.17/kg for beef, immediately, which must remain in place for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.
As with the proposed ‘3 months mortgage holiday’ for all mortgage holders, IFoI is calling for a similar 3-month repayment holiday apply to all farm loans, with a zero percent interest rate to apply to all farm account overdrafts facilities for the same period.
Live exports and flooding
IFoI said in respect of the hundreds of thousands of dairy calves that are being born this spring, it is crucial that every “diplomatic effort” is made by the Government to ensure that national ports across Europe and beyond remain open to live exports.
It believes departmental restrictions at the Irish end should be eased to ensure that this “crucial safety valve” remains in place throughout the crisis.
Where appropriate, all planned works to alleviate local flooding along the Shannon catchment and beyond should not be paused due to the crisis, the spokesperson said.
Suckler cow payment and support local
“In order to keep our suckler herd viable, it is imperative that the suckler cow grant of €300/head be rolled out, payable on the first 30 cows in order to protect our most vulnerable suckler farmers.”
The IFoI is asking consumers, as an act of national solidarity, to buy their meat from their local butcher, and to support other local business in their towns and villages in whatever way they can.
It is asking for the Government to commence a policy of direct income support for those farmers who are in the direst financial straits.”
This, the spokesperson concluded, should come in the form of a hardship payment, payable within the next 30 days, in a similar fashion to the Covid-19 unemployment payment.