The President of the ICMSA, the state’s specialist dairy farmers association, has said that the Irish agricultural sector faced unprecedented challenges and threats on almost every front but seemed to be completely ignored in terms of the ongoing talks about the formation of a new Government.
John Comer said that it was very remarkable how little discussion was taking place around policy for the farming and food production which is still by far the state’s biggest indigenous economic activity. Mr. Comer said that the plunge in milk price paid to farmers over the last two years had taken at least € 630 million out of farm income with a loss to the rural economy of at least €1 billion as that farmers’ milk income was ‘spent into’ their local economy. The ICMSA President said there was still no sign that either the Irish Government or the Commission appreciated the scale of the losses and now bad weather was keeping herds in and costing an average sized dairy farmer an extra €1000 per month in feed costs at a time when they are receiving a milk price well below the cost of production. Credible reports were now circulating that the Mercosur trade talks were moving towards a conclusion that could see 78,000 tonnes of South American beef flooding onto the European market at prices that will completely undercut Ireland’s €2.5 billion beef trade 90% of which is exported to EU Markets. Everywhere one looked, said Mr Comer, serious and present challenges to our €10 billion farming and food production sector were identifiable and yet there was no sign that the ongoing talks around Government formation were being conducted with a specific idea of an Irish response. That had to change – and quickly, said Mr. Comer.
Ends 12 April 2016.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office