EU announces €80m support programme for agri-food sector
The European Commission has said it is to implement a series of measures to assist the agri-food sector as a result of the impact of Covid-19.
In a statement issued from Brussels, the Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski sad that he had decided to take what he called “swift action” because of the impact of the virus on food production across the EU.
A private Storage Aid scheme for the meat and dairy industry will see supports being made available to processors to store dairy and meat produce until market demand increases.
The scheme will provide funding to companies to store product for a minimum of two months and a maximum of six months according to the EU Commission.
Such measures lead to a decrease in supply and help re-balance the market and put a floor on prices.
It is thought the overall package is valued at around €80 million.
Ireland is being given funding to store around 5,000 tonnes of cheese, according to sources.
The commission has not released details of the schemes, but around €30m of the package will provide supports to the dairy sector.
The Commissioner briefed farming organisations across Europe on the plan.
Irish Farmers’ Association President Tim Cullinan said the package will not be nearly enough to support agriculture, particularly beef farmers, through the current crisis.
He said: “While the Aids to Private Storage (APS) Scheme is an acknowledgement of the problems facing the sector, the funding won’t be sufficient.”
He said: “I am concerned that the EU Commission appears to be taking agriculture and the food supply chain for granted.
“Farmers and all those in the chain have been working very hard to keep food on the table, but beef farmers are now in crisis and dairy markets are under severe pressure.”
The IFA has called on Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to push for a significant increase in the commission allocation and to “come forward with national funding to support beef farmers”.
Reacting to today’s announcement, ICMSA President Pat McCormack said that the funding being allocated to address the seismic shock being experienced by EU farmers was “so obviously inadequate that it bordered on an insult”.
Mr McCormack said the package completely failed to recognise the pressures on farmers and the wider food industry at this time.
“A quick sum indicates that the support package is equivalent to €8 per farmer in the EU at a time when food markets and prices are experiencing an unprecedented shock, the food services sector has collapsed and we’re about to enter our peak production period for milk,” he said.
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