Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, was at the Lakeland Dairies processing plant in Bailieborough Co. Cavan yesterday for the official opening of a new milk powder plant.
The minister then took time to answer some important questions asked by us and on the minds of almost every farmer. The main focal point of questioning today being Brexit, Beef prices, Glas Payments and Irish Dairy.
When asked about Brexit, Mr. Creed did acknowledge the potential implications involved, but says the country is well equipped to cope with any eventuality. He pointed to an increase in the export trade as a reason to not worry over Britain's exit. He said these increased markets would help supplement any decrease in exports to Britain.
He said that Ireland have a reputation within the EU and the UK of being producers of top quality produce, which he says will stand to us.
“The EU have a high standard of food production, while British consumers will not want to lower the quality of the products they consume", said Creed.
He added that the UK, “will (still) be an important market for us...Consumers recognise we are a producer of high quality, nutritious, sustainable, traceable food”, which he says will “stand us well”.
Beef price cuts
Mr. Creed also answered our question on what's being done to help beef farmers losing up to €100 on cattle prices. Minister Creed informed me the strategy of the government is to increase foreign export markets to help prices get back on track. He said recent trade missions were crucially important to obtaining this.
“Our strategy is to secure many export markets as possible....That gives you additional leverage in the market place internationally. That should be reflected in prices back to farmers”, he said.
He continued by pointing to a recent Chinese delegation coming to Ireland to check out the country's main meat processing plants as an example of work being done to help prices.
“A Chinese delegation arrived in recent days, to check out the meat processing plants and systems. I remain confident that this would be a significant shot in the arm if we were to secure this access”, said Minister Creed.
Mr. Creed said he was confident of a deal with China and also said the constant increase in exports and live exporting is also bound to have a positive knock-on effect on beef prices.
The minister also fielded questions on GLAS, and on what is being done to prevent a repeat of last years payment delays.
“It is important to say we have paid over 97% to GLAS applicants, that is comparable with any other scheme”, said a defensive Creed.
He added, “We haven’t hidden from the initial difficulties...We are confident though that those difficulties are resolved”.
“The next payment on the block will be a seamless one”, he concluded.