November 6, 2020
MacManus calls for swift intervention in the cattle sector

MacManus calls for swift intervention in the cattle sector 

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus, Member of the European Parliament Agricultural Committee has called on the Irish Government to intervene swiftly in the cattle sector. The Midlands Northwest MEP said he believes the sector is very close to breaking point. 

“This week Teagasc published its latest Farm Sustainably Survey, for the year 2019. The most worrying, however unsurprising, statistic is 82% of cattle farmers could not be deemed economically viable. The data, which supports this statistic, is pre COVID so the situation may have worsened further since the pandemic.”

“Among many free market advocates, the CAP is seen as an unfair business subsidy that should be reduced at every opportunity. The figures released this week expose the flaw in that argument. In no other sector of the economy would it be common for 82% of enterprises to be deemed unviable. Thousands of farmers in my constituency would be operating at a loss if it were not for CAP supports.”

MacManus pointed to an unfairness for farmers, “Europe has made a decision that it wants to keep food prices cheap for consumers, and to ensure we are competitive on international markets, even though our producers are made to comply with higher standards.”

“The attempt to meet these objectives generally wipes out profit margins for cattle farmers. Which means the only option to avoid mass abandonment of the sector is direct CAP supports, to reverse losses.”

“It is disgraceful to see EU politicians attempt to strike a balance between cutting CAP supports to the bare minimum, without pushing farmers completely over the edge. This new data shows their dangerous game has left the sector on its knees. Just a few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to ensure real CAP reform and assist those small to medium farming families. The mainstream groups in the Parliament however, spurned the opportunity as they were more interested in maintaining the status quo.”

The Sinn Féin MEP called on the government to intervene, “The Irish government, as a point of first response, must make more supports available to relieve the intense strain on these farming families. In the long term, a fundamental rethink is required at EU level.”

MacManus concluded, “The EU must make a choice between cheap food and fairly subsidised farmers or free markets and high prices. Their attempt to have it both ways is stripping the next generation of farmers of any chance of a dignified livelihood from the land.” ENDS 

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