Tillage farmers must be prioritised for the European Commission’s €11m agricultural aid package, said Mairead McGuinness MEP and vice-president of the European Parliament.
She will discuss the aid package with European Commissioner Phil Hogan during the EU Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg next week.
She has urged the EU agricultural committee to direct the €11m aid package to tillage farmers in Ireland where persistent rain has made it impossible to harvest crops.
She says she was given assurances by Commissioner Hogan in July the aid package could be used for the tillage sector. However, recent analysis of EU regulations would seem to exclude tillage farmers from receiving this aid.
“I will be seeking clarification this fund is available to the grain sector following publication recently of the regulations which appears to restrict aid to the livestock sector,” said Ms McGuinness.
Fianna Fáil Cork North West TD Aindrias Moyni han said tillage farmers need urgent State action.
“They needs a support similar to that given to farmers hit by flooding last year,” he said. “Farmers also need the Government to open the tillage TAMS scheme immediately.”
IFA dairy chairman Sean O’Leary has urged Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to use the EU’s €11m aid package to support dairy farmers. The IFA also wants the Government to match this EU funding with another €11m in state aid.
Mr O’Leary said dairy farmers are facing badly stressed cash flows. Their margins are severely hit by the 27-month price slump prior to the recent recovery in milk prices.
He has urged co-ops to pass back “every last cent” to suppliers, and urged the Government to use all tools at its disposal to support dairy farmers.
“Dairy markets are rallying. This is welcome. but farmers have received only 1.5 to 2.5c/l more for their milk in the last two months, which still leaves them well below production costs,” he said.
“When you analyse the margins, you realise dairy farmers were not able to remunerate their own labour for most of 2015.”
Meanwhile, IFA hill farming chairman, Pat Dunne, has welcomed Minister Creed’s assurances that commonage farmers will get their 2016 GLAS payment at the same time as all other GLAS farmers — within the next six weeks.
Mr Dunne criticised the delay in the online system for advisors to lodge commonage plans, but said the Minister’s plan for interim arrangements should ease farmers’ concerns. In all, 10,000 commonage farmers are expected to apply for the next phase of GLAS.
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