The Russian ban and the possible negative implications for agriculture across all EU farm sectors clearly highlights the bad decisions taken by successive EU Farm Ministers in dismantling EU price supports instruments and effectively leaving very few and indeed limited price support measures in the event of a crisis and in addition, having a price support budget that is totally inadequate, according to Mr. John Comer, President of ICMSA. What we are left with is a crisis policy that will introduce supports for farmers in crisis sectors while at the same cutting their Single Farm Payment to fund it which is totally unacceptable.
While the impact of the Russian ban, Mr. Comer said, is still unknown from a EU and Irish farmer perspective and will be a number of weeks before the picture becomes clear, it has the potential to disrupt agricultural markets in the EU and there is a clear responsibility on the EU to ensure that farmers do not become the fall guys in terms of financial losses as a result of this political ban. Hopefully, the impact will be minimal but let’s be very clear, Mr. Comer said, farmers and the wider Agri-Food sector cannot be expected to pay a heavy price as a result of these political sanctions and quite clearly, as seen in previous crisis, any negative implications from the ban will be passed back to the primary producers by the more powerful links further up the supply chain. Already in other sectors across the EU, it is the farmer who is being directly hit with the processors simply passing back the pain. While the possibility of an Aids to Private Storage Scheme is a welcome development, it is of limited value and the reality is that the product will have to be sold at some stage into the future.
At EU and at national level, a strong focus must be placed on finding new markets with price supports if necessary. With food prices rising in Russia with reports of increases of up to 60% and on average 15% for meat to date, it is quite clear that to meet Russian requirements, displacement will take place in other markets and it is absolutely essential that state agencies in particular Bord Bia are given the necessary resources and provide the necessary support to Agri-Food exporters to maintain our existing markets and contracts for produce and develop new markets where required.
In addition, ICMSA firmly believes that with the implementation of Emergency Market Support Measures for some sectors as a result of the Russian ban, farmers should not have to pay for the cost of these measures by a cut in their Single Farm Payment. Under the CAP regulations, the Crisis Reserve is funded by a cut in the Single Farm Payment and given that the current ban is as a result of the Ukraine crisis, ICMSA firmly believes that farmers should not have to pay the cost of what is a wider political issue and the cost of which must be borne by all of all EU citizens given that political stability is required by all sectors of society, concluded Mr. Comer.
ENDS. 22 August 2014
John Comer is at (087) 2057846.