Beef farmers in Ireland will be receiving €100 million (about R1,62 billion) in aid to compensate them for falling beef prices due to Brexit-related uncertainties, changes to the value of the pound, and price cuts since the Brexit vote.
This follows recent protests in Cork during which members of the Irish Farmers’ Association strongly expressed their opposition to the government’s “lack of action” to protect the sector against effects of Brexit.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar confirmed that the government would be making €50 million (about R801 million) in funding available for beef farmers, while the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan’s had agreed to a further €50 million aid package for these farmers.
The Irish government’s aid package will be jointly-funded by the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, that will provide €15 million (R240 million) in funding, and the Department of Finance, which will provide the remaining €35 million (R561 million).
“As soon as we get the commission’s terms and conditions, we will be able to develop a scheme and ensure that farmers get the money that they need as soon as possible,” Varadkar said.
National treasurer of the Irish Farmers’ Association, Tim Cullinan, said: “The finishing beef farmer definitely has to be compensated. It is also the view that some [funding] would go the way of suckler [calf] farmers”.
However, Cullinan expressed concern about the governments approach saying that this was a “retrospective payment; it doesn’t mean everything is okay as of now”.
This announcement came on the same day as UK Prime Minister Teressa May unveiled her new Brexit deal, which was expected to lead to further uncertainty for Irish farmers.
A no-deal Brexit would also mean that the €100 million in funding would not be enough to stem the losses being suffered by the farming community, Cullinan said.