Farm organisations have been asked to meet with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue this Tuesday to help the Department of Agriculture assess the impact that disruptions to the agri-food supply chain have had on farmers.

The call comes as the Department has announced that a “rapid response” team has been formed to monitor the situation and report directly to the minister.

The Department’s secretary general Brendan Gleeson will head this emergency response team.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the volume of key farm inputs imported into the EU has decreased, with fertiliser and animal feedstuffs particularly affected.

“I have asked members of the main farming bodies to attend a meeting in my Department on Tuesday to assess the situation and how we can work closely and collaboratively in the time ahead,” Minister McConalogue said.

“At times like these, food is our most important resource so, as a Department, we are taking every possible proactive step to ensure that we are agile and can respond to this rapidly evolving situation,” commented the minister.

The European Commission has said it expects these disruptions will continue into the medium-term, at least. Exports of grain from Ukarine have effectively been ceased and EU sanctions will limit the fertiliser imported from Russia for the foreseeable future.

Emergency measures

The minister told farmers that a commitment had been made by the European Commissioner for Agriculture on Wednesday to make emergency supports available to the agri-food sector, should they be needed.

“I welcome the Commissioner’s commitment to support the agri sector,” Minister McConalogue said.

The Commissioner had said that market intervention measures and the mobilising of crisis reserve funding were two options the European Commission would consider to counter market volatility and frayed supply chains.

“Following the EU Council of Minister’s meeting, I have written to the Commissioner to ensure that any supports can be rolled out rapidly to support the sector,” the minister said on Saturday.

“I will continue to work with my European colleagues to deliver supports if and when they are needed,” he said.

Meanwhile, farmers on the ground in Ukraine are struggling to maintain farming day-to-day, as the effects on the occupation on rural communities are laid bare.