Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has said the European Commission’s proposal for a €80 million aid package for the agri-food sector falls short of what the sector needs as it deals with the economic fallout of the Covid-19 crisis. McGuinness is a member of the EU Committee of the Regions which gives local authorities a voice at European level. The Committee of the Regions works with the European Parliament to scrutinise new laws and policies.
Farmers and all those who work in the agri-food sector are doing a huge job to keep food on the table during the Covid-19 emergency despite the fact that we are facing a potential crisis in both the beef and dairy markets.
“The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association estimates that 31% of beef output in Ireland goes into food service. This market has entirely shut down, and farmers are facing at minimum a one-third drop in demand. At local level we have already seen the impact of the closure of McDonalds restaurants, which sourced 400 million burgers a year from the Dawn Meats plant at Carroll’s Cross.
“The recent announcement of an €80 million aid package for the sector falls far short of that is actually needed. The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association has worked out that this figure amounts to a little over €8 per farmer across the EU. It is inadequate and lacks the resources necessary to make a difference to farmers that are struggling to keep afloat. Food supply chains are critical and the EU needs to step up and announce an ambitious and fit-for-purpose package of supports.
“The only part of the proposed package that may work for Irish farmers is the limited access under the Aids to Private Storage, which will allow producers to store excess produce for up to six months, however this remains to be seen.
“Since the beginning for this crisis Farmers have been waiting patiently for the EU to bring forward proposals and they deserve much greater supports that what has been announced. Sinn Fein is calling on the caretaker Minister to engage with his counterparts in Europe and negotiate a stronger package of supports that works for Irish farmers.