Full engagement with EU Commission vital for farm scheme flexibility in light of Covid-19

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A FIANNA Fáil Limerick TD has said it is vital that the Department of Agriculture has full engagement with the European Commission for farm scheme flexibility in light of Covid-19 (coronavirus)

Limerick County representative, Deputy Niall Collins commended the “trojan national effort by citizens and State authorities” in efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The Fianna Fáil TD noted farmers and agri-food industry has “not been found wanting”, ensuring their products are still available on supermarket shelves.

He said, “Farmers are taking all necessary precautions and following the expert guidance from the HSE.

“Given the centrality of maintaining food security and supply lines during the current crisis, I believe that it is incumbent on the Department to engage with the EU Commission and ensure flexibility in the operation of farm schemes if required.

“All 2020 scheme payment deadlines must also be maintained and communication channels with the Commission kept open on issues such as inspections.

In order to comply with social-distancing practices, the Fianna Fáil TD said he would “echo the calls of ICOS for stocking rules under the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme to be relaxed so that all farmers do not have to go to marts at this time”.

“Such a move would enable farmers a longer period of time from which to purchase animals from marts, which will be required in cases to meet stocking density rules under the scheme.

“This is a challenging time for farmers, and we need to do everything to support them, while adhering to HSE guidance”, concluded Deputy Collins.