Farmers should get 'repayment holidays' on debts, says Coveney
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has called on banks to offer dairy farmers 'repayment holidays' as many farmers are facing massive debts in the face of plunging milk prices.
Pressure has been mounting on Mr Coveney to act, as milk prices have plummeted by a third compared with last year following the removal of EU quotas.
"I would be very demanding of banks at the moment. There are a lot of young dairy farmers in particular who have invested very heavily. I think all of our banks know dairy farming is a profitable business in the medium-to-long term," said Mr Coveney as he opened the Tullamore Show, which attracted up to 60,000 visitors yesterday.
"I'd like to see our banks giving flexibility to dairy farmers at the moment in terms of repayment schedules and maybe even look at 'repayment holidays' for a period of time until the milk price recovers."
There have been widespread protests across Europe over plunging prices, with blockades in France, supermarket protests in Northern Ireland and milk being spilled on the streets of Belgium.
Mr Coveney said he expected there would be "robust" discussions on the possibility of raising the prices at which they would intervene to support farmers at the upcoming meeting of agriculture ministers in Brussels on September 7 on the milk price.