Russian ban a major concern for farmers

THE impact of a possible ban on Irish food exports into Russia is another example of external shocks that can lead to uncertainty and volatility on Irish farms, according to IFA President Eddie Downey

As an export-led sector, any threat to a market for Irish food is a concern, he said adding: "Price volatility, extreme weather events and political instability are all elements that have an influence on commodity prices. With increased exposure of the agricultural sector to world markets, the impact of these factors is greater, with negative consequences for the viability of family farms".

Mr Downey said this latest development underlines the importance of the Common Agricultural Policy in providing a secure supply of food for Europe's 500 million consumers.

"This has to be the focus of future reviews of the CAP. There is a role for our Government also, to implement measures through the taxation system that tackle increasing income volatility," he said.

Meawhile, ICSA president Patrick Kent has warned that the Russian ban on EU imports should not distract from the current Irish beef price crisis and the problems that persist in "closer to home" markets.

"Obviously the loss of any market is a concern for producers, but exports of Irish beef to Russia have been of very little significance in recent years, amounting to less than 0.2% of total beef exports in 2013" he said. "While there have been hopes of expanding this market, the current ban must not distract from the difficulties faced by Irish beef farmers in markets closer to home."