“The fact of the matter is that our farming and food sectors will be perhaps fatally wounded by the loss of the British markets,” Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) president Pat McCormack has said.
The comments came during a video conference on the prospects for next month’s budget with Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath, and Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan.
The ICMSA has said that concerns were mounting amongst farmers as the atmosphere around the post-Brexit trade negotiations worsened.
The ICMSA president warned that in the event of negotiations failing a ‘massive and immediate aid’ would have to be made available to the farming sector as it grappled with the loss of up to €4bn worth of exports.
Farmers fully realise the constraints that the budget would be delivered within
McCormack said: “We emphasised to the ministers that the idea that any degree of preparation can cushion that kind of blow is just delusional.
“Farmers fully realise the constraints that the budget would be delivered within, but several measures are needed to support the farming sector and boost the rural economy, particularly in light of COVID-19 and the Brexit threat.”
The ICMSA also called for “practical and uncomplicated” measures to be implemented that would smooth the transfer of family farms to the next generation including the retention of the current stamp duty reliefs.
We’ve done the work on this and given the Government a farmer-friendly scheme that they could supervise and regulate
McCormack called on the ministers to consider a Farm Management Deposit Scheme that would help address the “wild fluctuations” in income that are “battering” farms and eliminating the prospect to future plan their business.
“We’ve done the work on this and given the Government a farmer-friendly scheme that they could supervise and regulate, which would allow farmers to use funds earned in good years against tax bills in bad years,” McCormack said.
The ICMSA called for a fully funded REPS scheme to be put in place for 2021, that TAMS continues to be available to farmers in 2021, and that a dairy calf-to-beef scheme be introduced to better integrate dairy and beef production systems.
“Farm schemes are important economic drivers in the rural economy and it is vital that sufficient funding is available for 2021 providing a boost to the struggling rural economy,” McCormack concluded.
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