An online public meeting is being live streamed on facebook next Wednesday 27th at 7:30pm. The meeting will be discussing the crisis in the farming community as a result of Covid 19. Speakers on the night are Edmond Phelan, President of the ICSA, Tom Stephenson from the Beef Farmers Crisis Discussion Group and Stephanie Hanlon, small farmer and activist. The meeting will be streamed from People Before Profit Cllr Adrienne Wallace’s facebook page and can be viewed by searching for @AdriennePBPA on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AdriennePBPA/).
Stephanie Hanlon said “With the major restaurant chains shut in Ireland, the largest percentage of buyers of Irish beef are temporarily out of business. Indeed, with marts shut, even the normal commerce of buying and selling of farmers products has been suspended. This has had to be done for protection of human life, but the supports put in place mean many beef farmers are scared for the future. This has also been a scary time for milk producers, as many are struggling with loans due to the deregulation of the milk sector in 2015.
She added “As Irish agriculture goods are traded internationally the impacts of Covid-19 are not just a national concern for Irish farmers. Shocks and changing consumption patterns worldwide are felt in people’s pockets here. The Government supports for farmers are woeful. Farmers are allowed to apply for the Credit Guarantee Scheme (state backed loans), a facility that any small or medium enterprise may apply for, and that is it. Given the projected and actual loss in revenue, Covid-19 could see many farmers lose their farms and livelihood due to the pressures of the Pandemic. Wednesday’s meeting will be a way for us to talk about solutions and offer farmers a way of coming together in a difficult period.”
Edmond Phelan concluded “Farmers as primary produces have to make a margin for their work. Even before the crisis farmers were losing money on production and scraping by on payments from the EU to subsidize production – this is not sustainable. After Covid 19 climate change will be the next crisis. Farmers often get a bad name but globally the fossil fuel industry and air travel have wider ecological impacts. There is a lot of new technology, like anaerobic digesters, that exist which could reduce emissions in farming but the government have not gotten behind supporting these initiatives”.