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UK and EU Action Needed to Address Farm Cash Flow

UK farming unions meet in Brussels to agree on plan

The Presidents of the four UK farming unions- NFU Scotland, NFU, NFU Cymru and Ulster Farmers Union met in Brussels today (Friday 19 February) to discuss the steps needed to help the farming sector deal with growing cash flow difficulties.

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.

While in Brussels, the four farming unions met with senior Commission officials to highlight several key EU measures to deliver assistance.  This comes after ministers at the recent 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 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.

UK unions 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.

Speaking from Brussels, NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie said: “Farm businesses are suffering severe cash flow problems caused by unsustainably low prices and the delay in the payment of the basic payment scheme.   

“We need measures that can assist businesses now and help them through the current serious difficulties that are hitting all of Europe’s farmers.   

“Farmers are at the start of a £100 billion food and drink industry here in the UK.   We are the foundation stone of the largest manufacturing sector in the country and we support 4 million jobs.

“Concrete measures need to come out of the next Council of Farm Ministers’ meeting that can give some immediate relief to struggling farm businesses.   We are asking for a suspension of fertiliser tariff imports and the removal of dumping duties to give some immediate relief on costs.   

“Allowing the European Investment Bank to refinance farm borrowings with holidays from repayments possible when prices are extremely low would assist with businesses dealing with price volatility.

“While these measures will give some immediate relief, we need to continue our focus on ensuring that the market gives farmers a fair return and that the risk and rewards up and down the food chain are more fairly shared.”

Notes to Editors

  • A photograph of the UK Farm Union leaders in Brussels is available on request from media@nfus.org.uk

Ends

Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108
 

Date Published:

News Article No.: 47/16


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