Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has been called to act on analysis presented by Teagasc on the effects of COVID-19 on Irish agriculture.

IFA president Tim Cullinan said the scenarios presented were frightening.

“Teagasc has looked at three scenarios arising from the impact of COVID-19 and the most benign would see farm incomes fall by 26% this year. Particularly for low-income sectors, this would be a disaster for farmers," Cullinan said.

It reinforced the need for a direct payment to support cattle finishers, he believed.

Wake-up call

The IFA president outlined: "This stark warning has to be a wake-up call for the Government and EU Commission. We need to see a much stronger response if farmers are to survive.

"The recent announcement from the EU Commission is far short of what is required to deal with the shock to farm incomes that Teagasc is predicting.”

He stressed the analysis did not take into account the scale of losses already experienced due to Brexit uncertainty, especially in the beef sector.

“Other EU member states are availing of state aid flexibilities to support their farmers. The minister in Northern Ireland has come forward with £25m of support for their beef and dairy sectors. Our Minister has provided no financial support,” Cullinan pointed out.

He called on the Minister to immediately come forward with a meaningful response.

Further analysis

The analysis carried out by Teagasc reflects that carried out by UCD Professor of Agriculture and Food Economics Michael Wallace for the Irish Farmers Journal . It showed that income on farms could fall by €570m or €990m, depending on how prices move.

By the start of May, beef prices to farmers had fallen by up to 17%, while dairy commodity prices were down by as much as 21% since Europe went into lockdown.

Wallace found the greatest danger for farmers would be that the recovery from the coronavirus lockdown was be slow and lingering.

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