Farming industry in turmoil as beef and dairy prices continue to fall – Reilly
Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin General Election candidate for Cavan/Monaghan Senator Kathryn Reilly has said that more needs to be done to protect the farming industry given the sharp decreases in beef and dairy prices over the past number of months.
Senator Reilly said:
“The farming industry is the backbone of the rural Irish economy and it is an integral player overall in the Irish economy. A thriving farming industry boosts all areas of trade and commerce in rural Ireland and it also boosts confidence which has an extremely positive effect socially and economically for our towns and villages.
“However, over the past number of months the dairy and beef industry has been devastated by the continual reduction in prices for their produce.
“Since the abolition of milk quotas the price for raw mild has dropped so dramatically that farmers are now losing money on the production of milk. The Government championed the abolition of milk quotas; they told the farming industry that the removal of milk quotas would see a rise in the price of a unit of milk for Irish farmers. But this simply has not been the case.
“The EU Commission abolished quotas in 2015 and therefore it is up to Commissioner Phil Hogan to ensure that this volatility ceases and that farm families get a price for their milk which can help them survive. Furthermore, Europe must intervene in a much more meaningful way to support dairy farmers. At the very least there needs to be an intervention price of 28 cents per litre so that farmers can cover the cost of milk production.
“Some €800 million is estimated to have been lost in the income of dairy farmers since 2014, and this in itself has had a huge effect on the wider rural economy.
“Similarly, the Irish beef industry has been equally decimated by price volatility, in particular farmer’s state that this is due to a lack of competition in the sector.
“Beef farmers in Ireland have for a long time campaigned for better prices for their cattle and fair and open competition, which they say is being denied to them. It is time the Irish Government and the Minister for Agriculture helped the farmers get a better price instead of passively standing by as beef processors hold the balance of power.
“In addition, the unacceptable price gap that has opened up between British and Irish cattle prices is having a detrimental effect on farmers in the border counties and it is essential that the Minister address this and many of the other legitimate concerns that beef farmers have regarding the industry.
“As with the dairy industry, low prices and price volatility are having a detrimental effect on rural Ireland economically and socially.
“These are serious election issues, but they are also far more than election issue, they are issues about peoples livelihoods. In order to protect farmers, and by extension rural Ireland, there has to be a concentrated effort from the Government, Europe, Co-ops, and banks to open dialogue with farmers in order to make sure that the farming industry, the backbone of rural Ireland, is not brought to its knees and broken.”