EXPRESSING his anger that our government is not making a strong enough case in Europe for Irish farmers, independent Cork South West TD Michael Collins says he is very disappointed with Agriculture Minister Creed’s response to the fertilizer price increase and to other farming issues.
Last week in the Dáil, Deputy Collins outlined to the Minister that nitrogen fertiliser prices in Ireland have increased by up to seven times since last June and, as a result, nitrogen prices are approximately €60 per tonne more expensive that they were last summer. He told the Minister that tariffs and taxes on fertiliser in Europe are costing Irish farmers approximately €32 million per annum, which is making Irish commodities uncompetitive against imports from outside the EU. Mr Collins says that this price increase is affecting all farmers – dairy, grain, beef and sheep farmers.
Minister Creed stated that he had raised the fertilizer issue in Europe and he has agreed to raise it again, but Mr Collins feels that the Irish government should be fighting much harder on this issue. He said that Commissioner Hogan is in a strong position to help Irish farmers and to outline their difficulties to the European Commission.
Mr Collins pointed out that ‘Irish farmers, who are paying unacceptably high prices for farm inputs (fertilizers, sprays, farm medicines, etc), have to compete with people on the world market who are buying these products at a far lower price. This is making farming in Ireland unprofitable.’ He expressed his anger that our government is not making a stronger case in Europe for Irish farmers.
Deputy Collins also raised the issue of the some 5,000 struggling farmers who are still awaiting their Glas payments from the Department. These farmers having paid out considerable amounts of money to their planners are now under huge financial pressure. The Minister assured Deputy Collins that they are working through the problems with the Glas payments as quickly as they can. However, Deputy Collins says that ‘it is totally unacceptable that so many people are still waiting for Glas payments at this time of the year’.
Michael Collins also raised the issue of compensation for tillage farmers, which the Dáil has voted in favour of, and he called on the Minister to deliver this immediately. He said that ‘the huge uptake in the recently-announced low cost loans for farmers shows that there are huge cash flow issues on many Irish farms.
‘Farmers are being crippled with rules and regulations being applied from Europe. Many of these rules, regulations and deadline dates are unrealistic and are making farming extremely difficult here in West Cork,’ said Deputy Collins, before repeating his call on the government to be much stronger in Europe when speaking on behalf of our farmers.