The Presidents of the four UK farming unions met today to discuss the steps needed to help the farming sector deal with growing cash flow difficulties.
They said action at both UK and EU levels will be essential, with the unions looking to the banks to take a fresh look at the way in which they deal with farm borrowings. In addition, the unacceptable delays in issuing basic scheme payments must be urgently addressed.
The four farming unions met with senior Commission officials in Brussels this week to highlight several key EU measures to deliver assistance. This comes after ministers in the Agriculture Council agreed to put forward proposals on potential solutions to the European Commission ahead of the next Agriculture Council in March. The four union Presidents will be lobbying ministers and pressing the Commission to introduce practical measures to support Europe’s struggling farmers.
The Unions said the European Investment Bank (EIB) must be pressed to speed up its work to refinance farm borrowings, and everything must be done to ensure that trade with Russia is resumed. Export credits as proposed by the French government could help reduce the pressure on the European market. They have also repeated their call for dairy intervention price thresholds to be reviewed. In addition, fertiliser import tariffs must be removed to boost competition in the European fertiliser sector. All of these measures will help to achieve the ultimate objective of taking cash flow pressure off farmers, the Unions said.
UFU President Ian Marshall added: “Farm businesses are really struggling financially and it is vital that the banks take a more radical approach to supporting and assisting farmers during this cash flow crisis and also that the EU Commission acts now to alleviate the serious problems which the industry is facing through no fault of its own.”
The four farming unions will jointly be outlining these steps in a submission to ministers ahead of the next Agriculture Council meeting in Brussels in March.