Beef farmers 'struggling' to pay household bills as Brexit losses top €100m

A Farmer puts out silage for the Hereford and Aberdeen Angus cattle in a shed on his farm. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
A Farmer puts out silage for the Hereford and Aberdeen Angus cattle in a shed on his farm. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

A deep crisis continues to grip the beef sector in Ireland with the Irish Farmers Association calling on the Government and EU Commission to compensate beef farmers for Brexit losses which they say run to over €100m.

Despite the UK's exit from the EU set to be pushed back to October, Brexit stockpiles of beef in the UK are said to be weighing on prices on both sides of the Irish sea.

In the Dail, this week Independent TD Carol Nolan said that in her constituency of Laois and Offaly, there were farmers struggling to pay household bills and in great hardship.

"Beef farmers the length and breadth of this State are experiencing serious financial losses and the 5c/kg drop for beef last week has impacted further on an already bad situation," she said

IFA has written to both Minister Creed and Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan outlining the details on the €101m losses.

 “Beef farmers have gone through a horrendous period of financial losses, mainly as a result of Brexit imposed market uncertainty, changes to the sterling exchange rate and price cuts.

"Some beef farmers are facing financial ruin.

"They cannot afford to carry this magnitude of loss and it is essential that the Government and EU Commission provide a direct support aid package for the farmers concerned”.

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Joe Healy said this is the real test for the Government and the EU Commission on their promises to support farmers through this most difficult period.

“Farmers expect that they will honour the commitments they have made over the last number of months. They must now convert these commitments into real delivery and cover the Brexit losses farmers have already incurred to date.”

Following the EU's decision to extend the Brexit date Tánaiste and former Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney moved to reassure farm families. "There are 130,000 farm families in Ireland, nearly 100,000 of whom get some farm income from beef and 70,000 of whom get all of their farming income from beef.

"I want to reassure them that if Ireland faces a no-deal Brexit - which looks less likely today than it did last week - we will be ready to support Irish farm families and the food industry through what will be a very difficult period of change and disruption,"

He said the Government is working with the European Commission and Commissioner Hogan has been very strong on this also.

"There will be a significant support package to help farmers through the disruption of a no-deal Brexit, which would be considerable for Irish agriculture," he said.

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