The EU agricultural aid package announced, this week, in Brussels by Commissioner Phil Hogan must support farm incomes, leaders of the Irish Farmers Association and the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association have insisted.
IFA president Joe Healy said Agriculture Minister Michael Creed must optimise the value of Ireland’s €11.1m share of the funds announced.
The minister must provide national matching funding and use this to reduce the cost of short-term borrowing for farmers in all sectors.
Mr Healy said he IFA has proposed a State-Aid backed loan package allowing farmers to deal with merchant credit, superlevy and other bills. The EU package could be used to enhance the proposed loan scheme and must be delivered urgently, he said.
Sean O’Leary, IFA Dairy Committee chairman, said a fast rising number of dairy farmers are struggling to meet their daily family needs, never mind pay business bills.
ICMSA president John Comer said the success or failure of the EU package will depend on its delivery of an increased milk price.
It is essential the Government fully matches the package that Ireland had received and that these funds are used to support dairy farmers in an extremely difficult period, he said.
Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association president Patrick Kent questioned the granting of a further rescue package for dairy farmers while beef farmers continue to seek fair play for their own sector.
“We are simply looking for equal treatment for the beef sector. However, yet again we are seeing aid flooding to the dairy sector,” he said.
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