The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) have reacted angrily to the most recent statement coming from the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Janusz Wojciechowski. The Association’s President Colm O’Donnell commented that “the Commissioner is showing an unbelievable lack of leadership at a time when farmers need help”.

The INHFA President went on to say “The Commissioner has admitted that market intervention for the Agri-food sector is required and that there are legal instruments available to activate urgency procedures, yet he is sitting on his hands” stated O’Donnell. “Waiting for clarity on, what level of funding could be ring fenced for market disturbance when EU Leaders finally agree on the next seven year Multi Annual Financial Framework (MFF) budget. This may or may not be signed off on at the next Leaders’ summit on the 29th of April”.

O’Donnell continued by saying that “this is totally unacceptable and our Irish Government and Minister for Agriculture must hold him, and the EU Commission itself to account.”.

The INHFA has formally written to Commissioner Wojciechowski instructing him to activate article 219 of EU Common Market Organisation (CMO) regulation 1308/2013. This regulation makes provision for urgency procedures to be put in place to deal effectively and efficiently with market disturbance caused by Covid-19.This can be done as part of a recovery strategy to tackle the economic fallout experienced by farmers, including the primary producers of suckler Beef and Sheep meat.

“This specific Article of the CMO gives the Agricultural Commissioner the authority to access immediately whatever funds are necessary to address or prevent market disturbance. He can justify such action where intervention may prevent the threat materialising and turning into a more severe and prolonged disturbance” stated the INHFA Leader.

He continued by saying” delaying immediate action could threaten to aggravate the disturbance or increase the extent of the measures which would later be necessary to address the threat. Also going forward this could be detrimental to production and market conditions “.

The INHFA President concluded by stating” that whatever rescue package materialises, the primary producers of suckler beef, sheep and lamb must be compensated for the sterilisation of their farm enterprises due to the European Union’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic”.