Urgent action is needed to address the deepening farm income crisis stated IFA President Joe Healy at a recent briefing for TDs and Senators in Dublin.
The briefing is the start of a major IFA campaign to secure measures that will relieve the extreme income pressure being felt by farmers in almost every sector and every county of Ireland. At the briefing, IFA representatives spelled out the steps required by Government to deliver positive change for farmers.
John Hanley, Chairman, Roscommon IFA Co. Executive said: “With prices running below the cost of production on dairy and grain farms, the income crisis is being compounded by a clear market failure in the Irish financial sector. The cost of financing short-term working capital on farms is very high, with average quoted rates for overdraft facilities of 8%, and higher rates for merchant credit. These rates are totally out of line with interest rates of 2% or less available to some farmers on the continent.
“The EU Agriculture Council has recognised the need to address cashflow pressures on farms with provision for State Aid through low interest loans or loan guarantees. Our Government needs to move now to provide low cost short-term loans to alleviate cashflow pressures across all sectors,” Mr. Hanley said.
Direct payments make up a significant part of farm income, particularly for drystock and tillage farmers. Mr. Hanley said, “There is an opportunity to support farm income by raising the number of GLAS entrants to more than 50,000 and by bringing forward the Government commitment to increase ANC payments to the upcoming Budget. Prompt payments and a 70% advance on the Basic Payment in October are also needed to help cashflow.”
Farm Assist and the Rural Social Scheme are vital supports for low income farmers, Mr. Hanley said.