A ban on beef imports from outside the European Union must be one of the urgent measures to support food production by farmers during the Covid-19 emergency, according to a Laois Offaly TD.
Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson Brian Stanley TD met with Agriculture Minister Michael Creed this week regarding necessary and urgent interventions needed in the sector to support primary producers.
At the meeting, Deputy Stanley said he raised the "dire situation" in the beef sector, the need for a halt on non-EU beef imports, the need to diversify food production, and to front-load CAP direct payments.
Speaking today, the Laois-Offaly TD said: "At our meeting, I made it clear to the Minister that our farmers and workers within the sector must be supported through state intervention if we want our food supply chains to continue to operate as normal.
"First of all, we need to see maximum flexibility regarding the front-loading of CAP direct payments. If we want to avoid cash-flow issues down the line then we will need to see greater capital provided to primary producers up-front. Minister Creed assured me that this was being pursued.
"Beef has dropped to €3.40 per kilo, a price which is below production cost and cannot be sustained. If we want to see this sector survive, and if EU countries also want a continued supply of beef from Ireland, we need a new emergency financial aid package to support the sector.
"We are still seeing a large amount of non-EU beef being imported into the EU. This makes no sense when beef farmers are under such serious financial pressure. I have called on the Minister to push for an EU-wide suspension of non-EU beef (excluding the North of Ireland) and it has been confirmed to me that this will be raised.
"Last of all, we need to protect workers' rights. This means that factories, producers and processors need to abide by the HSE guidelines regarding social distances and hygiene," he concluded.