Beef farmers are losing their shirts and are facing a Brexit Armageddon - IFA President

IFA President Joe Healy addresses the organisations 64th AGM at the Farm Centre in Dublin, where he said make or break decisions are imminent for our farming and food sector. Picture: Finbarr O'Rourke
IFA President Joe Healy addresses the organisations 64th AGM at the Farm Centre in Dublin, where he said make or break decisions are imminent for our farming and food sector. Picture: Finbarr O'Rourke
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Beef farmers are “losing their shirts” hit by a triple whammy of bad prices, spiralling costs and reducing direct payments, the IFA President warned.

The farm lobby group sent a shot across the bows of the Government as it warned Agriculture Minister Michael Creed’s “wait-and-see” approach was damaging the sector.

“While a hard Brexit might be two months away, our problems are here and now,” said IFA President Joe Healy as he addressed the organisation’s AGM in Bluebell.

He warned farmers were angry and frustrated by prices that have seen €80-€100 shaved off the head of an animal at the factory gates and need to see some confidence restored.

Mr Healy pointed out the Brexit process has been characterised by uncertainty but the “one certainty” is that it would be a disaster for Irish farming.

“I qualify everything I say by saying that we are still hopeful there will be a deal. Even if there is a deal we have seen farmers continue to lose a lot of money,” he said, adding farmers were already feeling the pinch in their pockets and the ‘backstop’ was vital.

He warned there was huge uncertainty in mushroom market, pig trade and there has been huge uncertainty on prices.

A strong message has been sent to the EU Commissioner Phil Hogan that there must be an increased Common Agricultural Policy budget with direct payments to farmers and a well funded Rural Development Programme.

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He said the price of meat going in to any intervention would need to be far higher than currant prices. Currently, 99pc of mushrooms produced, 50pc of beef, 82pc of cheddar cheese goes to the UK and 400,000 pigs are processed North of the border.

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