EU Member States last week agreed to a proposal from the European Commission to make €50 million available to Irish beef farmers, which can be matched by national funds to reach a maximum of €100 million.
The establishment of the fund reflects the Commission recognition of the particular challenges facing the Irish beef and veal sector due to market uncertainty and an unprecedented and sustained period of low prices. This exceptional measure, provided under the Common Market Organisation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), will offer support to the Irish farmers affected.
Due to the drop in prices, with a fall in margins estimated at 11 to 19% in the past year for the beef and veal sector, the Irish authorities have calculated that beef farmers have lost just over €100 million.
Once formally adopted by the Commission early next month, the Irish authorities will have until the end of July to design the criteria within a set framework for granting the aid. They must avoid the distortion of competition when distributing it. One of the key objectives should be to ensure the beef and veal sector’s long-term viability through, for example, the development of new markets, the implementation of quality schemes, or the improvement of farmers’ environmental sustainability.
The Commission has, over the last four years, been very supportive of a number of sectors which have experienced specific problems, whether arising from the introduction of the Russian ban or particular difficulties in the European animal product sectors in recent years.
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