The ICMSA President, John Comer, has said that his association is now working on the basis that the cost of the weather and fodder crisis will reach €900 million and will continue through next winter and into Spring 2014.
Mr Comer said the ICMSA estimates were ‘in-house’ but they had been calculated and compiled in a very conservative fashion and he said that it was possible that the final costs would run past even this catastrophic figure.
“The principal losers over what has been ‘a nightmare year’ are dairy and livestock farmers and unfortunately the likelihood is that these extraordinary losses and fodder pressures will carry over into 2014. While we see some output prices improving, the gain here is almost certainly going to be overtaken by reduced production and the surge in input prices and volumes – both of which have grown exponentially”, said Mr Comer.
The ICMSA President said the picture being presented was of the utmost seriousness and the situation could now accurately and without exaggeration be described as a national emergency.
“It couldn’t be more simple or serious at this point: many farmers will not be able to get through this current crisis without financial support. That support is available through the EU Solidarity Fund which exists specifically to deal with natural disasters and ICMSA is saying bluntly that the weather experienced in this country for the past year categorically satisfies any definition of a natural disaster. We simply can’t understand why the Minister has shown such a marked reluctance to pursue this option? The likely losses to Ireland as a result of this weather and fodder disaster are of a quantum that exceeds the 0.6 per cent of Gross National Income that is the threshold loss necessary to trigger consideration by the Solidarity Fund. This disaster has cost our farming community €900 million euro and when we read about some of the previous successful applications to the Solidarity fund – we’d be thinking here of the payout to Greek raisin growers in 1999 – it’s very, very difficult to see how that was, in any sense, more of a disaster to them than losing €900 million is going to be for us. The Minister is going to have to re-visit his decision not to press for this option because the losses suffered are already staggering and may not even stop there”, said Mr Comer.