ICMSA president Pat McCormack
The continuing non-appearance of the Brexit Low Interest Loan Scheme was stressed by ICMSA last Monday at a meeting with Minister for Finance Pascal Donoghue.
The association also stressed the same issue at a meeting with Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, the previous week.
“This is the obvious mechanism to address the cashflow crisis on farms and needs to be be opened for applications as soon as possible,” said ICMSA president Pat McCormack.
He said that the concern was that the DAFM seemed intent on restricting this scheme to investment-only and didn't want it utilised for the cashflow crisis arising out of the fodder situation.
“We’ve asked the Minister to reconsider urgently and accept the reality that farmers desperately require access to low interest funding immediately and regardless of what purpose the fund was originally designed for,” said Mr McCormack.
In relation to fodder, Mr McCormack said that the southern half of the country was the worst affected at this stage and the Minister should introduce a fodder transport scheme similar to the one he had come forward with last spring so that any surplus fodder in the northern half of the country could be brought south at a reasonable price level.
“Farmers need every support to boost fodder levels and a national scheme should form part of this response,” he said.
The ICMSA delegation also stressed to the Minister the need for live exports to be ramped-up immediately, for particularly weanlings and store cattle
“If farmers are to pay the bills associated with the fodder crisis, they will need a strong price for their cattle this autumn,” he said. “The only way that this will be achieved is if live exports numbers are increased considerably.”
In relation to beef prices, Mr McCormack said that the Minister must clearly spell out to the meat plants that they had a role to play and cutting farmer prices at this time was “simply not acceptable”.
The meat industry was well supported by State agencies and they needed to show some level of commitment to farmers at this time, said Mr McCormack.
Finally, ICMSA stressed to both ministers the need for specific and focussed measures in Budget 2019 to address income volatility for farmers.
Mr McCormack noted that 2019 had yet again highlighted the extreme income pressures on farmers.
The taxation system had to recognise the extreme volatility in farm income that was now becoming more frequent and more destructive. Measures must be introduced that would allow farmers to put aside funds that could support them through difficult years, he said.