Wednesday 7 December 2016

Farmers take to the streets over income collapse

Louise Hogan and Ralph Riegel

Published 01/09/2015 | 02:30

John Murphy from Newcastle, Co Dublin, with Sylvia, one of his cows, at yesterday’s farmers’ protest in Dublin city centre
John Murphy from Newcastle, Co Dublin, with Sylvia, one of his cows, at yesterday’s farmers’ protest in Dublin city centre

Thousands of farmers took to the streets of Dublin city centre yesterday to highlight the farm incomes crisis.

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Grain was spilled on the street, pigs were released and a cow joined the 2,000-strong march on the EU Commission offices to demand action over plummeting milk prices and the impact of the year-long Russian ban on the marketplace.

The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) leader Eddie Downey warned that grain farmers, dairy operations and the pigmeat farmers were under "severe" pressure.

"Political decisions on farm policies taken in Europe over the Russian trade ban mean there is an oversupply of dairy and pigmeat in the EU markets," he said.

Plummeted

IFA grain chair Liam Dunne said many tillage farmers were under huge "psychological" and financial pressure following the recent broken weather and below-cost grain prices for the third year in a row.

The IFA has provided many of the country's grain merchants with helpline numbers to be given out to struggling farmers.

Prices paid to dairy farmers have plummeted by a third, with margins down by 90pc over the past 16 months.

Thousands of farmers are expected to protest in Brussels next Monday as an extraordinary meeting of EU agriculture ministers takes place to discuss the falling milk price. Concerns over markets are also expected to be on the table.

The IFA has called for the EU Commission to use the €800m milk superlevy fund to support dairy farmers and for changes to the milk market intervention prices.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said he would be calling for the €800m superlevy fund to be made available to support farmers.

Speaking as he announced 120 new jobs at Quinlan's SeaFood operations in Cork and Kerry, Mr Coveney said he had presented a six-point plan to European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan asking for an increase in the intervention price and seeking Aid to Private Storage (APS) for cheese product.

However, Mr Coveney said that there was little hope in the short term of the Russian market re-opening.

Irish Independent

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