The President of ICMSA, John Comer, has said that he is very surprised and disappointed to read reports that seem to imply that MEP Mairead McGuinness advocates the €11 million EU Crisis Fund being allocated to cereal farmers as a kind of priority. Mr. Comer said that while no-one doubted the challenges faced by cereal growers, dairy farmers have suffered an even greater price collapse and income wipe-out over the last 18 months, both at home and in Europe. The scale of this disaster affecting the EU’s dairy sector over that period has been recognised by several of the EU Member States who have specifically chosen to direct all their national allocations to their dairy farmers having first matched the EU allocation in full with their own funds – as is allowed by the Commission and which is the course of action ICMSA believes the Irish Government should follow.
Mr. Comer reiterated that ICMSA was not downplaying the severity of the cereal situation but he said that Ireland should seek a specific fund for the cereals sector from the EU rather than adopting the current ‘loaves and fishes’ policy on the €11m fund. “There is still a massive problem in the dairy sector: we are still producing milk below the cost of production and the €11m fund is required for the dairy sector. There is a EU Farm Council meeting next Monday and the Minister should seek a separate fund for the tillage sector to address the problems in that sector. In relation to the €11m fund , ICMSA would welcome Ms. McGuinness and her fellow MEPS throwing their support behind the ICMSA call for the Crisis Fund to be used in a flat €1,200 payment per dairy farmer”, he said.
“The EU Crisis Fund should go to dairy farmers and, more importantly, it should go directly to dairy farmers by way of a flat €1,200 per farmer. We recognise the problems facing cereal farmers and a separate fund is required in relation to this . But everyone has to remember that despite the last two months of market rallies our milk suppliers are still getting a price up to three cents per litre below the cost of production. That’s the reality and it has become unbearable for our 18,000 dairy farmers”, concluded Mr. Comer.
Ends 5 October 2016
John Comer, 087-2057846
President of ICMSA