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An ICOS delegation led by Vice President Michael Spellman and Board Member Liam Williams, represented Irish Agri Co-operatives at the COPA & COGECA #farmaction protest in advance of the emergency Ministerial Agri Council.

Spellman said “ICOS were using the opportunity to emphasise to the Commission the serious difficulties that exist in the agri-markets and the extent to which the co-ops have been strongly supporting their members in the last 12 months.  We need decisive action by the Commission to address the current market difficulties.’

ICOS estimated that farmer owned co-operatives have spent in the region of €100 million supporting prices for their farmer members since the imposition of the Russian Ban last year.

Protest 2

Spellman said, “We in farmer owned co-operatives are committed to supporting our members and have proven our intrinsic value in the food chain in giving farmers collective power and protection.  However, the millions of Euro we are spending supporting prices, could be far better spent in areas such as developing new markets and research and innovation.”

He continued, “Farmers are not looking for hand outs here, but we are looking for support to turn around the market so our businesses can make a return. Remember that European farmers this year are contributing over €850 million in Superlevy fines. Almost €70 million of this is coming from Irish co-operative members, and we are making the case to have a portion of this retuned to help stabilise the markets.”

“ICOS have been engaging very constructively with Phil Hogan and his Commission team as well as our own Department of Agriculture over the last year to come up with workable solutions to help our farmers and their co-operative businesses.”

In terms of suggestions, ICOS have been looking for a suite of short and long term measures to help the market, and to allow farmers and farming businesses to return to profitability.

ICOS also very much welcomes any initiative being brought forward to use food aid to help migrants at this time of severe crisis.

By Conor Mulvihill, European Affairs Executive