ICMSA president Pat McCormack
ICMSA has repeated its contention that the €100 million Beef Brexit Fund must be distributed to all farmers who incurred losses in beef production.
President Pat McCormack has rejected “absolutely” the idea that anybody is entitled to “pick and choose” who they wanted to receive compensation and exclude others who had suffered losses no less serious and who could prove that their losses were due to Brexit-related factors.
Mr McCormack, himself a Tipperary dairy farmer, highlighted the fact that it was pointless for farmers to warn the department that they would not accept conditions from that body on who could, or could not, receive compensation, while seeming to want to themselves impose conditions on which specific group of farmers were eligible and who were not.
He was adamant that ICMSA would never accept a distribution of the compensation that discriminated against dairy farmers who had suffered losses on beef that were demonstrably Brexit-related. “A very significant number of dairy farmers also have a beef enterprise and the suggestion that their losses should be ignored is nothing less than a disgrace”, he stated.
Mr McCormack said it was time for people to spell out what they really meant, and he noted that ICMSA had been categorical from the outset.
“Any farmer who suffered a Brexit-related loss on beef production is entitled to compensation from this fund. That was the intention of the fund and that, in a sense, is what it says on the tin.
“ICMSA will not accept a situation where an unverified and unverifiable hierarchy is put forward that says Group A suffered more than Group B and is therefore more deserving of all the compensation.
“That was not the basis the fund was sought on, it creates a very dangerous precedent as well as dividing farmers and it’s not the basis on which it should be distributed.
“This fund is not anyone’s property and it’s absolutely crucial that, at this stage, when the losses from Brexit uncertainty are still ongoing and actually increasing, that the Department is both fair and seen to be fair about distributing the compensation which, I remind everyone again, is for all farmers - including dairy farmers – who produce beef and can show Brexit-related losses."
Des Morrison, chairperson of ICMSA’s livestock committee, said that it was this ongoing aspect that he wished to emphasise.
“Are we being asked to accept that this €100 million is the end of the matter? That this is the total and final payment of Brexit-related beef losses and that it runs up to, say, yesterday when the EU passed the regulation?
"What about the farmers selling cattle today at 20 cents per kg lower than someone who sold the same grade six to eight weeks ago?
“Is the person selling today not eligible for compensation despite the fact that they’ve suffered a heavier Brexit-related loss?
“We’re back here to the problem that no-one has ever shown us the formula by which this figure was derived. How did we get to this figure? What period does it cover and most importantly, is this an ongoing mechanism for compensation or is there some message here that this is a final and total payment?"