IFA Asks for Creativity in the Face of Crisis

IRELAND - Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) President Padraig Walshe this week met with EU Agriculture Commissioner Marian Fischer Boel to highlight the severity of the current dairy farm income crisis, and to persuade her of the need to take more creative action to support the sector.
calendar icon 29 May 2009
clock icon 2 minute read

Mr Walshe said decisions made by the Commission regarding intervention and other supports had successfully put a floor under falling dairy commodity prices, and he welcomed the 70 per cent advance on the Single Farm Payment to October. However, this policy no longer goes far enough and other market support measures must be implemented if milk prices are to return to 27c/l.

“We need a more creative approach to address an exceptional and critical situation. I have suggested to broaden the scope of the animal feed schemes beyond calves, as well as the introduction of a scheme which would allow dairy farmers to exit the industry in a dignified, deliberate manner, instead of relying on attrition through income pressure to reduce production capacity by force,” Mr Walshe said.

On the move to bring forward 70 per cent of the Single Farm Payment to October, Padraig Walshe said this was welcome, but it was disappointing that payment could not happen sooner as IFA had requested.

He said, “I told Ms Fischer Boel how sheer anger and frustration at the lack of effective action in Europe had led Irish dairy farmers to protest at the EU Commission office in Dublin. She must understand that farm families across the country are facing into a summer with no income to sustain their households and run their businesses.”

As well as Ms Fischer Boel, Mr Walshe met many other decision makers in Brussels this week, including the Czech Minister for Agriculture who holds the Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers, our own Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith and high-ranking Commission officials.

“The Commission response to this crisis is inadequate and is adding to the frustration of Irish farmers who are under intolerable stress due to milk prices and disastrous weather conditions. Everyone in Brussels is in no doubt as to the problem, but there is a lack of urgency within the Commission to make use of all available market supports, never mind think creatively about new support schemes to increase the minimum price paid to Irish farmers to 27c/ltr,” he said.

“We need a more supportive and imaginative attitude from our European politicians and civil servants, to help secure the future of one of the most promising economic sectors in the EU, by ensuring dairy farm families can generate a viable income,” he concluded.

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