Offaly election hopeful lends support to beef farmers
Local election candidate Joe Wynne (Independent) has backed beef farmers in their battle to win greater support from the government, saying, "our farmers want a hand-up, not a hand-out."
With the local elections only a couple of weeks away, the Ferbane man, who comes from a small farming family himself, has voiced his support for a section of the farming community for whom the effects of an impending Brexit are already being felt.
"Beef farmers in this country are suffering greatly because of Brexit, and that should be sounding alarm bells in government. Because by the time Brexit actually happens, it could well be too late to act. And the more drawn out Brexit negotiations remain, the greater the damage that's being done," Joe said.
"With losses running at over €100 million, I fully support the I.F.A. as they rightly call on both the government and the E.U. to compensate farmers for such losses."
Continuing, Mr Wynne said that stockpiles of beef in the UK, combined with poor factory prices are causing great financial hardship to beef producers. "I've seen a figure of 8% of beef farmers who are turning to dairy production to prevent financial ruin and to remain on their land. Here in Offaly, we have the second lowest level of disposable income in the country, and reducing beef prices are definitely a factor in that."
"And of course, it has a devastating knock-on effect in ways that are all interlinked. For example, sales of machinery were down by as much as 50% in the first four months of 2019. Now, if there's no money there, how can farmers spend it? And if farmers aren't buying farm machinery, then who else will?"
"You can see how quickly that can - and is - escalating, and causing problems in the farming community, the beef sector and beyond."
"The long and the short of the situation," concluded Mr Wynne, "is that Irish beef farmers had no hand, act or part in Brexit. But they've been drawn into the whirlpool of devastation it's creating."
"The current situation of so many beef farmers facing the prospect of financial ruin is simply not sustainable. It's an important national industry, which the government needs to recognise, not just with words now, but with actions. These are the men and women who help to keep the country fed, they're not afraid of hard work or getting their hands dirty. They never have been. All they want now is a hand-up, not a hand-out. And it's high time the government acknowledged this."