In the week that has seen the Euro fall below the 70 pence threshold, the Ulster Farmers’ Union has confirmed that currency exchange rates are having a major bearing on the economic prospects for agriculture in Northern Ireland.
On Monday morning the Euro was worth 69.9 pence on international money markets.
A UFU spokesperson said: “The weak Euro is damaging for every commodity, and it will also hit the calculation of single farm payments which are due in December.
“The weakness of the Euro against Sterling is making life tough for exporters. This is making an already bad situation worse for many commodities, not least dairy products and lamb.
“It also gives our competitors, led by the Republic of Ireland, a huge currency advantage supplying the major UK retailers, which are our biggest customers. This makes life difficult for processors here, which is reflected directly in what they pay farmers. All the signs are that the Euro will remain weak, meaning that when the rate to convert euro into Sterling for single payments is set in September this will be down by around ten per cent on last year.
“This is a major blow for farmers at the end of a year when single payments will be desperately needed to maintain cash flows. Adding to the frustration of low prices and cash flow pressures is the fact that this is an issue over which farmers have no control, but suffer more from the fallout than any other industry in Northern Ireland.”
Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson agrees. He has confirmed that the current strength of Sterling against the Euro will provide farmers in Northern Ireland with a further shock when it comes to the paying out of this year’s Single Payment in December.
“We are looking at a year-on-year drop of between 15% and 20%, if current trends continue,” he said.
“And this is simply due to the currency movements that we have witnessed over the past few months.”