ICMSA president Pat McCormack: has called for action to guarantee food security
Following discussions with Farm Organisations across the EU in recent days, the president of ICMSA, Pat McCormack said that we are now at the point where we should recognise that there has been serious market disruptions across the EU arising from the coronavirus pandemic and policy measures at EU level will be required to allow farmers and processors to adjust to the current market uncertainties.
“We can start from the point where there has been a surge in sales at retail level in recent weeks and this is likely to continue for the foreseeable future – if not at the very high levels seen last week. Food service has seen a dramatic drop and, the period of recovery at this stage remains uncertain. What has emerged front and centre over the last week is the importance of food security in the EU and the important role played by farmers in producing high quality and safe food across the EU,” he said.
The Tipperary farmer said that certain markets and companies - particularly those supplying food service - had taken a hit and it was essential that the EU intervened to ensure that farmers and processors were supported to maintain this critical production.
In terms of measures to support the agriculture and food sectors, Mr McCormack said ICMSA was proposing:
nWith transit across borders becoming more difficult, food products and materials associated with food production should be considered essential goods under the Commission’s proposed green lanes, which gives priority to certain products in freight transport. It is absolutely essential that the normal flows of food materials are maintained across and outside of the EU
nPrivate Storage Aid Schemes (PSA) should be made available for dairy and other products to allow the strategic management of food stocks from the forthcoming peak production period
nThe rules in relation to farm schemes, including inspection requirements, will have to be reviewed and simplified to ensure that payments are made to all farmers at the specified time and that the maximum advances allowable are made.
nLow interest loans should be made available through the European Investment Bank to secure the long-term sustainability of farms and food processing businesses
nThe EU Commission must ensure that there is no opportunistic cutting of farmers prices by unscrupulous processors or traders of food produce and decisive action should be taken if such price cutting takes place.
“The EU is facing a major health crisis and there can be no adequate response without all links in the food supply chain playing their role and take their responsibilities seriously,” he said.