Brexit funding for processors ahead of farmers 'exposes government's warped priorities’ – Matt Carthy TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD has said that allocation of €70 million from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve to meat processors, while nothing has been provided to farmers, is "illustrative of where farmers stand in this government's warped priorities".
Initially announced last December, government have now confirmed the processors will receive funds under the Capital Investment Scheme for the Processing and Marketing Agricultural Products, while a remaining €30 million remains unallocated.
Teachta Carthy was speaking this week after the European Commission formally adopted the decision to allocate the funds.
The Cavan-Monaghan TD said:
“It was the story of our farming families and fishermen that delivered for Ireland the allocation of a significant share of the Brexit Adjustment Reserve – but they have not yet seen any benefit.
"Instead, the first allocation of funding to the Agri-Food sector has gone to multi-billionaire meat processors, long accused of squeezing every last inch of margin out of our primary producers.
"This is illustrative of where farmers stand in this government's warped priorities.
“For months I have been seeking information from the Department of Public Expenditure as to how this fund is to be allocated, to no avail.
“Yet meat processors have confirmation that they will receive significant BAR funds, while our farmers have no idea what, if any, supports will be available to them.
"Bizarrely, the reported rationale is that Brexit has yet to impact on beef prices.
“The basis of the funding to processors is to allow them diversify – by the same logic it would be entirely appropriate to support our suckler farmers, or indeed fishermen.
“This ludicrous situation is compounded by the fact that these funds appear to have been provided to processors without any conditionality. It is unthinkable that this government would provide any funds to farmers or fishermen on such terms.
“Upon the original announcement of the Brexit Adjudgment Reserve funding, the calls from farmers included ring-fenced suckler funding; the establishment of an unfair trading practices enforcement authority; the resolution of issues arising from the BEAM scheme debacle; and the development of a suckler brand.
“To date, virtually no movement has been made in any of these areas. The government decision to allocate substantial funding from the reserve to processors before farmers sends a message that will be heard across every family farm.”