State Aid rules must be relaxed to support workers and farmers - Brian Stanley TD
Sinn Féin Agriculture and Food spokesperson Deputy Brian Stanley has called for EU State Aid rules to be relaxed to ensure that workers and farmers in the agriculture sector are supported during the Covid-19 crisis.
Deputy Stanley made these statements following the news that McDonalds is closing its restaurants across Ireland and Britain. McDonalds is the largest buyer of Irish beef by volume and exports Irish beef all across its European stores.
Speaking earlier, Deputy Stanley said:
"The news that McDonalds is set to close its stores across Ireland and Britain is a major blow to the Irish farming sector.
"McDonalds purchases 40,000t of beef each year from Ireland and exports it across Europe. One in every five hamburgers sold in a McDonalds across Europe is of Irish origin. Their closure will cause a major shock to Irish farms and communities.
“It is therefore essential that the government demand the EU relax State Aid rules so that it can support Irish farmers. Continued food production will be essential to ensure that we can come through this emergency, and just as after the economic crash, our agri-food sector will be pivotal for a speedy recovery.
"We need to provide strong beef market price support and we need to call on the Commission to increase funding to farmers through direct financial supports.
"I have written to Minister Creed and I have called for pressure to be placed on banks and lending institutions to sit down with farmers to reschedule payments and to offer special overdraft facilities.
"I have also asked the Minister to establish an official National Taskforce for the agri-food sector to ensure that the supply chains continues to operate as usual and that we deal with all of these matters urgently.
"Lastly, I am urging consumers, factories and retailers to support a 'Buy Irish Campaign' to support Irish businesses and workers.
"Now more than ever, we need to prioritise the buying of Irish origin products to support our domestic economy. Consumers should buy Irish produce and factories and shops should make it easier to identify Irish origin produce."