ICMSA president Pat McCormack
WE are now plainly at the point where we have to accept that there has been very serious market disruptions across the EU arising from the coronavirus pandemic and policy measures at EU level will be required to allow farmers and processors to adjust to the current market uncertainties.
ICMSA believes that implementing the following specifics will have both practical benefits and also signal to the wider and worried population that the Commission is across the issues involved in getting food from the farmers to the consumers.
With transit across borders becoming more difficult, food products and materials associated with food production should be considered ‘essential goods’ under the Commission’s proposed ‘green lanes’
Private Storage Aid Schemes should be made available for dairy and other products.
The rules in relation to farm schemes, including inspection requirements, will have to be reviewed and simplified to ensure that payments are made to all farmers at the specified time and that the maximum advances allowable are made.
Low interest loans should be made available through the European Investment Bank to secure the long-term sustainability of farms and food processing businesses.
The EU Commission must ensure that there is no opportunistic cutting of farmers prices by unscrupulous processors or traders of food produce and decisive action should be taken if such price cutting takes place.
There must be an immediate suspension on all imports of beef into the EU as those imports specifically target the steak cuts that must be retained for EU production.
The EU is facing a major health crisis and there can be no adequate response without all links in the food supply chain playing their role and taking their responsibilities seriously. Farmers are ready right now and all we need is the EU to implement simple and specific measures aimed at ensuring that we can continue to deliver high quality food to EU and global consumers through this period.
It's important to remember, even in the midst of such stress and worry, that whatever happens Irish farming can feed Ireland and anyone else within reach that needs food. I’d ask everyone to look after elderly neighbours and each other. Wider society and communities are discovering – or perhaps, rediscovering – the wisdom and strength of the ‘Meitheal’ system that we farmers never forgot.
We’ve got through other problems and we’ll get through this together.