The Government must outline a plan for emergency measures to support farmers through the disruption and price volatility caused by COVID-19, a Sinn Féin MEP has said.
Chris MacManus was selected to replace Matt Carthy in the European Parliament after the latter was elected to the Dáil in the recent general election.
MacManus said a clear plan on how to protect the safety and livelihood of farmers and safeguard food supply was needed.
“Farmers cannot be left to fall between the cracks of support for workers and employers announced this week - their unique position in our economy and society needs to be recognised and accounted for.
“In a time of extreme economic uncertainty, farmers need to be assured of receiving a fair price for their produce. The Government must assure farmers that they are prepared to make market interventions where necessary to protect the price of agricultural products.
“It is paramount that all available instruments at the State and EU level are mobilised to support the agriculture industry.”
MacManus said the closure of marts was likely to be the first in a number of challenges farmers will have to face due to the coronavirus. Their closure would disproportionately affect family farms, he said.
“Farms that do not finish cattle on a commercial scale rely heavily on the services marts provide across the island. They rely on marts for weighing, locating buyers and security of payment.
“However, what the Government has prohibited is live auctions. There is still a significant role for mart operators to play in order to provide weighing services, locating buyers, provide security of payment, etc.”
He welcomed the willingness of marts to adapt to continue supporting farmers.
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