Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has called for the establishment of an EU-wide AGRI-Brexit Fund to assist the farming sector cope with massive losses due to currency fluctuations and market disturbances.
Speaking following submission of the amendment to the EU’s 2018 Budget, Carthy said:
“The European Parliament is this week preparing amendments to the draft 2018 Budget. Sinn Féin MEPs have submitted an amendment that will seek to protect farming communities from currency fluctuations.
“The lack of pace on Brexit de-negotiations should have no bearing on remaining countries and regions putting in place structures to protect vulnerable sectors.
“Currency fluctuations since the Brexit vote last year have all but destroyed the mushroom sector, and are now starting to threaten other sectors such as beef. Uncertainty regarding the devaluation of the sterling is being exploited by the deeply concentrated meat processing market resulting in sharp price drops for farmers.
“These farmers need support and this is what the Sinn Féin amendment hopes to achieve.
“Article 219 of the Common Market Organisation regulation provides for exceptional measures against market disturbances. It allows the European Commission to adopt delegated acts to react against significant price falls on internal or external markets, or other events significantly disturbing the market.
“In response to the Russian embargo in 2014, this Article was triggered to give €33m to peach and nectarine growers, €125 to perishable fruit and vegetables, and €28m to the dairy sector in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
"In fact, a €10.7m fund was set up for Finish milk alone with the justification that 25% of its milk production was destined for Russia. This is well below the 80% of Irish mushroom production destined for the British market.
“What we are seeking is a temporary fund of a fixed-term duration to be set up under the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF).
“This fund could be accessed by farmers suffering major price fluctuations and market disturbances caused by Brexit. Precedent for ad hoc remunerations from this fund are plentiful, such as with the Russian embargo.
“However, we need a more structured process to be put in place for Brexit that can be easily released.
“I will be seeking cross-party support for this proposal to ensure that farming livelihoods are protected during Brexit negotiations.
“I am already encouraged by the signals of support from MEP’s from Ireland and several other countries.