Farm Ireland

Sunday 19 November 2017

Government plans to top up €14m EU aid fund to help pig and dairy farms

Simon Coveney with one of the Farming Independent's 'Ed Shearin' T-Shirts. Photo: Frank McGrath
Simon Coveney with one of the Farming Independent's 'Ed Shearin' T-Shirts. Photo: Frank McGrath
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has signalled that the Government may top up the €14m EU aid fund to help crisis-hit dairy and pig farmers.

There are major concerns over a steep fall in milk prices after the removal of the quota production restrictions.

Yesterday at the National Ploughing Championships, Mr Kenny said the drop in dairy prices was a global issue for agriculture.

"There are responses to that in terms of a European fund of €14m and the effort to possibly top that up from our own resources here in Ireland as well," he said.

"The dairy forum will meet shortly to work out a system on how best to distribute it."

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said there were measures under way to help dairy farmers, with market intervention to improve prices and the advance payment next month of €750m payments to all farmers.

"Because we understand why dairy prices are weak at the moment, we know they are likely to improve next year.

"This is about getting farmers through a temporary price difficulty, which we are doing to ensure they can grow and expand and have good incomes again next year," he said.

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However, farm body the ICMSA said farmers had been extremely hard hit by a 40pc fall in income in many cases.

Its president, John Comer, said he had received positive signals that the Government may add considerably to the almost €14m 'envelope' of EU crisis monies for the sector.

He signalled that milk prices would be a key election issue on the doorsteps for politicians as he pointed out that farmers asking about milk price would not be reassured by vague predictions of a price recovery in the middle of next year.

"They may well have borrowed to expand because they were told in reports like 'Food Harvest' that it was 'onwards and upwards' for the dairy sector and now they're looking at the new debt and a 40pc fall in income and being told that a price recovery is 'predicted' for next year. But even if it comes, it will come too late for their best production months. They won't be sleeping any better for hearing that," said Mr Comer.

Meanwhile, Teagasc has launched guidelines on beef to make farmers more aware of the specific requirements of foreign markets, as 90pc of Irish beef is exported.

Joe Ryan, from the body representing the country's processors, Meat Industry Ireland, said producing animals that meet the customer needs in our key export markets will help maximise payments to farmers.

Irish Independent