Enhanced direct payments, low cost short-term loans and the abolition of EU import tariffs on fertiliser are on the IFA’s menu of solutions for the income crisis facing farmers.
Having briefed TDs and senators, the IFA is intensifying a multi-tiered campaign to secure measures to relieve the income pressure being felt by farmers in every sector and every county of Ireland. It is seeking Government and EU support for its measures, including greater access to banking finance.
IFA president, Joe Healy, said: “With prices running below the cost of production on dairy and grain farms, the income crisis is compounded by a clear market failure in the Irish financial sector. The cost of financing short-term working capital on farms is very high, with average quoted rates for overdraft facilities of 8%, and higher rates for merchant credit. These rates are out of line with interest rates of 2% or less available to some farmers on the continent.
“The EU Agriculture Council recognises the need to address cashflow pressures on farms with provision for State Aid via low interest loans or loan guarantees. Our Government needs to move now to provide low cost short-term loans to alleviate cashflow pressures across all sectors.”
The IFA is seeking that the number of GLAS entrants be raised to more than 50,000, and for the Government’s commitment to increase ANC payments be brought forward to the budget. It says prompt payments and a 70% advance on the Basic Payment in October are also needed to help cashflow.
The IFA wants delivery on a Government commitment to invest €25m in a new sheep scheme, and the re-opening of Beef Data and Genomics Programme to applicants this year and for an increase in funding in Budget 2017.
“The beef and sheep sectors make a significant contribution to Irish economic growth, through exports and employment, particularly in marginal areas. Despite this farmers are not receiving a sustainable income from these enterprises,” said Joe Healy.
The IFA also wants a reinstatement of income and child disregards, which were abolished by the previous Government. It says that an EU abolition of import tariffs on fertiliser would deliver annual savings of €50m to €70m to Irish farmers.
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