“The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has a duty of care to protect all farmers. The Minister must also ensure that not a single one of them goes to the wall as a result of the emergency measures introduced by Government in an effort to keep ahead of the Covid-19 virus”, stated Colm O’Donnell, the President of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA).

In a statement issued by the farming association after the teleconference stakeholders meeting with the Minister, DAFM officials and farm leaders. Mr. O’Donnell paid tribute to Governments approach and welcomed the actions being taken within the Department of Agriculture to help farmers through these unprecedented times.

However, the INHFA President stated “The closure of all livestock Marts is a concrete example of Market Disturbance for the primary producers of Suckler Beef and Sheep and Lamb, as alternative outlets carry a high level of financial risk. Farmers may be forced to ride the storm and carry additional livestock for several weeks or months. This is why the Minister must act swiftly to ensure any extra costs and animal welfare concerns are catered for immediately. The INHFA have outlined to the Minister that Article 219 of EU Commission Regulation (1308/2013) exists and makes provision for emergency urgency procedures to deal with unforeseen Market Disturbance. This must be enacted quickly to deal effectively and efficiently with such events”.

“I have asked the Minister to rigorously pursue this course of action at his meeting with the EU Commission as a matter of the greatest urgency”, stated O’Donnell.The Farm leader continued by stating “a direct payment without conditionality must be secured to include all primary producers of Beef, Lamb and Dairy.This will provide immediate financial support and ensure that the first link in the food supply chain remains intact and lets us as farmers keep producing safe, healthy nutritious food for all the citizens of our nation “.