IFA president Joe Healy said the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, must bring forward more detail in relation to his reported comments about EU aid in the event of a hard Brexit.
“Minister Creed says that he intends to make Irish aid a key agenda item when the EU Farm Council meets in Luxembourg in early April, after the Brexit deadline. Bolting the door after the horse is gone is too late for farmers. We need a support plan in place long before then. The situation is now urgent,” the IFA president said. “The Minister has finally acknowledged that farmers are ‘losing their shirts’ at current prices. He needs to get on the pitch now and set out what exactly he will be seeking for Irish farmers.”
Mr Healy added that is imperative that whatever package is introduced will support farmers directly, rather than going to factories.
He said the prospect of ‘no deal’ before the end of March is alarming for all farmers, and especially livestock farmers who are increasingly concerned about prices and exports to our most important export market in the UK.
“If the UK crashes out in March, we are facing a far more serious situation and the potential wipe-out of beef production in this country.”
He said the time has come for the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister Creed, along with the EU Commission, to come forward with a comprehensive programme of supports that will address the real issues around market supports and cattle prices.
“The problems with currency volatility and the euro and sterling exchange rate has already hit cattle prices. We are down 20c/kg or over €70 per head on this time last year, when prices had already been hit.”