Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth has called on the new Agriculture Minister to ensure that farming families have adequate access to credit and ease the farm income crisis that is having a devastating impact on farmers in Cavan, Monaghan and right across the country.
Following a meeting with members of the Cavan branch of the IFA, Deputy Smyth is urging Minister Michael Creed to take steps to address these cash flow issues as a matter of priority.
Deputy Smyth explained, “There many farming families across Cavan and Monaghan who are struggling to remain viable. Farmers have come through a very difficult few years, especially those in the beef and dairy sectors, where prices have dropped dramatically. Milk prices have been falling for 24 months, and this is being compounded by large superlevy repayments as a result of the abolition of quotas.
“Many farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to get access to credit through the banks, with young farmers being alienated because of their lack of collateral. We need to see new opportunities initiated so that farmers can access the funds they need to invest in and upgrade their farms.
“One of Minister Creed’s first priorities should be to speed up access to EU credit lines available through the European Investment Bank, which would allow farmers access to affordable loans. The Fine Gael-Labour Government failed to act to fully utilise the avenues that were open to them with regard to securing credit for hard pressed farmers and I am urging the new Minister to begin actively pursuing these options.
“The importance of the agri-food sector cannot be underestimated, but unfortunately small family farmers are being left behind. Minister Creed must ensure that family farms remain viable by drawing down EU funding and opening up new lines of credit either through loans, guarantee funds or equity investment so that hard pressed farmers can bridge the current liquidity gaps”.