Agriculture

Tipperary farming: Beef comments welcomed, but support still required

ICSA seeks support package for beef farmers

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Tipperary farming: Beef comments welcomed, but support still required

ICSA president Patrick Kent: 'ICSA has asked Commissioner Hogan to make immediate representations to the budget commissioner for a support package for beef farmers'

ICSA president Patrick Kent has welcomed comments by EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan that sets out some detail on how the EU Commission will support farmers in the event of a no deal Brexit.

But the association is insisting that beef farmers need help, deal or no deal.

“ICSA spoke to Commissioner Hogan in Brussels and made the case that beef farmers are already taking a massive hit on Brexit,” said Mr Kent.

He said that ICSA estimated that Brexit was already costing Irish beef farmers some €4m a week on the prime cattle kill alone, with knock on impact for calf and store producers.

“ICSA has asked Commissioner Hogan to make immediate representations to the budget commissioner for a support package for the beef farmers who are the most affected by Brexit, regardless of whether it’s a no deal Brexit or some other outcome,” he said.

Mr Kent said that the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit with the never ending confusion in London was doing a massive amount of harm to the beef farming sector with prices way below the cost of production.

Beef prices at € 3.70/kg for steers compared badly with the average annual price for R3 steers of €4.20/kg that was available in 2015. In turn the average 2015 price was a lot lower than the peak €4.40/kg available 2013, he said.

“ICSA argues that the cost of production is now at least €5/kg when labour is costed. If the Brexit uncertainty continues to keep prices down at current levels, Irish beef farmers will not survive,” said Mr Kent.

Meanwhile, IFA president Joe Healy said the IFA had calculated that beef farmers had already incurred Brexit beef price losses of €101m since last autumn.

“Beef farmers have gone through a horrendous period of financial losses, mainly as a result of Brexit imposed market uncertainty, changes to the sterling exchange rate and price cuts,” he said.

Some beef farmers were facing financial ruin, said Mr Healy, who added that they cannot afford to carry this magnitude of loss.

“It is essential that the Government and EU Commission provide a direct support aid package for the farmers concerned,” said the IFA leader.

Mr Healy said IFA had written to Minister Creed and Commissioner Hogan outlining the details on the €101m losses.

“Farmers expect that they will honour the commitments they have made over the last number of months. They must now convert these commitments into real delivery and cover the Brexit losses farmers have already incurred to date,” he said.

Mr Healy said this was the real test for the Government and the EU Commission on their promises to support farmers through this most difficult period.

The IFA analysis covers the period from September 1, 2018, to March 23, 2019.