The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., today announced Cabinet approval for an allocation of €50 million to provide for a support scheme for beef finishing farms which have been severely impacted by the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Minister Creed said
I am acutely aware of the ongoing market disturbance related to Covid-19 in the Irish beef sector and the significant consequences for beef farmers and for the rural economy as a whole. Farmers with finished animals have suffered a dual impact over recent months: reduced prices and a reduced kill. This support for the beef sector is an emergency response to a dramatic economic shock, to mitigate the worst Covid-19 economic impacts on these farm enterprises. Beef farming is a significant economic contributor to local rural economies, and thus is more important than ever in sustaining these communities as we work towards economic recovery.
Minister Creed noted that his Department will be engaging with stakeholders in relation to the details of the scheme to be developed, which must also submitted to the EU for state aid approval under the Covid-19 Temporary State Aid Framework.
Minister Creed stated,
This is part of my ongoing efforts to ensure that all the appropriate support measures are put in place at national and EU level for our farming communities. I urge all actors in the supply chain to recognise their interdependence and work collaboratively towards our shared objective –a beef sector which is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable.
Minister Creed concluded
I have now made over €200 million in new money available specifically to beef farmers over the past two years on top of the €300 million under the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP).
Minister Creed also announced that a meeting of the Beef Taskforce is planned for the end of June, to take place by video conference in light of Covid-19 restrictions.
Note for Editors:
The delivery of essential services to farmers, fishermen and the food and forestry sectors has been prioritised by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine throughout the course of the pandemic; including services such as export certification, scheme payments, and protocols to allow mart services to continue on a limited and controlled basis.
Following a campaign by Member States, spear-headed by Ireland, the European Commission introduced a scheme of aids to private storage under the CAP for certain dairy products, and certain beef and sheepmeat cuts.
In May, the Minister announced the Covid-19 voluntary Temporary Fleet Tie-up Scheme for fishing vessels, to be implemented under Ireland’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme 2014-20.
Farming specific supports available include: an increase in the budget for the Calf Investment Scheme to €4 million; bringing forward of balancing payments under GLAS and the Organic Scheme; and various practical flexibilities for applications for the main farm schemes.
Farmers, fishers and food businesses will also benefit from access to the Government’s liquidity and investment responses to Covid-19 impacts, including the expansion of the Future Growth Loan Scheme for capital investment and Microfinance Ireland loans for working capital. While the banks have extended their payment break from three months to six months for those directly impacted by Covid-19, the Government has announced an expanded Credit Guarantee Schemes, which will support working capital lending to SMEs, including farmers and fishers.
In addition, food businesses are eligible for the Covid Working Capital Loan Scheme, as well as Enterprise Ireland supports to maintain business continuity and liquidity, and Bord Bia supports to accelerate eCommerce and expand marketing activities.