Fianna Fáil proposes eight measures to help farmers as marts close amid Covid-19 epidemic

Fianna Fáil proposes eight measures to help farmers as marts close amid Covid-19 epidemic

The Government is being strongly criticised for shutting down all marts across the country because of Covid-19.

The Irish Co-Operative Organisation Society (ICOS), which represents co-ops running marts, said it is "disappointing" as organisers put a big effort into keeping them open safely.

However, IFA president Tim Cullinan supports the move, saying: "Any decision made by the Government that will stem the spread of Covid-19, these people are taking advice from the medical officer and I think we will have to adhere to that.

"It's another blow to the farming community at this point in time, but on the other hand, if this is going to help in the battle of fighting the virus we have to support any measure that the Government and the HSE is coming out with.

"Obviously it's a blow to the farming community and for the marts themselves."

In response, Fianna Fáil proposed a set of measures to help farmers and the agrifood sector to deal with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The party's spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue, said: “Unfortunately, the very necessary public health measures are restricting economic activity and markets for Irish agri-food. Considering that we export 90% of all our dairy and beef internationally this places a gigantic challenge in the present climate and will require direct market supports (intervention and Aid for Private Storage) and compensation for losses incurred.

“My party and I are calling on Commissioner Wojciechowsk, the government and Minister Creed and his European counterparts to examine the following measures to protect farmers and the agri-food sector as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak."

  • Immediately deliver an emergency crisis fund for farmers, especially those in vulnerable sectors e.g. beef and sheep, to compensate for market losses via CAP market disturbance aid.
  • Introduce EU market supports i.e. intervention and Aid for Private Storage in order to provide price supports for farm sectors impacted e.g. meat and dairy.
  • Vital that the Department of Agriculture has full engagement with the European Commission for farm scheme flexibility in light of Covid-19.
  • All 2020 scheme payment deadlines must also be maintained, and flexibility given by the EU Commission on issues such as inspections.
  • Suspend the need for any non-essential inspection requirements and ensure that there is no impact on payment dates.

    Amend the stocking density rules under the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme so that all farmers do not come under pressure to purchase cattle immediately.

  • Avail of new EU state aid flexibilities to directly support farmers. Member States are now allowed to draw up schemes to directly grant-aid those active in the primary production of agricultural products to address urgent liquidity needs up to the value of €100,000 per undertaking.
  • Flexibility to be shown in the awarding of the Green Cert this year.
  • Ensure that necessary flexibility is provided to Marts to put in place alternative trading arrangements for livestock during the crisis period.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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