Exceptional aid measures for the beef and dairy sectors will be high on the priority of asks for Ireland when Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed speaks to his ministerial counterparts across Europe today.

European agriculture ministers will discuss what action is required to support the agri-food sector through the crisis sparked by COVID-19.

The industry is looking at a significant drop in farm gate prices for beef and milk, Minister Creed told RTÉ News at One.

“We will be looking for supports to ensure that our farmers come through what is first and foremost a public health concern but obviously with very very significant financial consequences for the industry,” he said.


At EU level, provisions are already in place to provide exceptional aid measures. Last year, Ireland secured €100m to fund a scheme to support beef finishers, while intervention was used to support the dairy industry following a Russian embargo on EU foodstuffs.

Minister Creed said he expects the European Commission's response to involve exceptional aid measures for the livestock side, and intervention and aid to private storage (APS) on the dairy side.


The minister also said efforts were under way to find alternatives to livestock sales following the closure of marts.

“There are a number of platforms already that offer sales opportunities on farm-to-farm sales. We are looking at how the Department can use the expertise that the livestock marts have to facilitate that in terms of valuations etc.”

Minister Creed said he hoped greater clarity on how marts will be able to facilitate the sale of animals to make up for the opportunities lost at ringside would be available by the end of the week.


The minister also moved to reassure farmers that meat factories would remain open after workers walked out at two separate plants in Northern Ireland over concerns around social distancing.

Minister Creed said he had spoken to both meat and dairy executives to remind them of their obligation to put in measures at all their facilities to comply with social distancing protocols.

“I am confident from the engagement I've had with the industry down here, that they are taking all the necessary steps,” Creed said.

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