Commenting on the call from Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney at the opening of the Tullamore Show for the banks to offer hard-pressed farmers a ‘repayments holidays’, the Deputy President of ICMSA said that farmers would be much more reassured if the Government itself acted or pressurised the Commission to act rather than ‘passing the buck’ onto the banks.
Mr Pat McCormack said that the idea of a ‘repayments holiday’ did not deal at all with the underlying problems represented by the kind of slide in milk price that had now reached a total national loss in dairy income and wider dairy-derived spend of around €1 billion on 2014 levels.
“The idea that Irish milk suppliers – or indeed any nation’s milk suppliers – will be able to plan and operate on the basis of the kind of €35,000 to €40,000 annual income swing that we’re going through right now is a terrible delusion.
“Irish farmers don’t want a ‘feast or famine’ scenario; they want an income that rewards their work, investment and expertise on a fair, progressive, basis and they don’t want to be left at the tender mercies of extreme market volatility or the cartel of international retailers who seem to escape the attention of every regulatory body – certainly the EU Commission.
“Ireland’s family farm system just won’t be able to withstand this kind of see-saw fluctuations that sees periods of strong price followed by double-digit falls against a background where farm inputs stay constant or, more usually, go up. We don’t need Minister Coveney urging the banks to do something for the farmers; we need Minister Coveney himself to do something for the farmers, specifically, get the Commission to introduce a realistic 28 cents per litre intervention price and, in conjunction with Minister Noonan, look at a farm income averaging tool like the Australian-style Farm Income Management Deposit scheme ICMSA has drafted in our pre budget submission.”