Task Force on Rising Agribusiness Costs Meets

Since the group’s inception in April 2022, members have worked to ensure that appropriate help and advice is available to industry in Northern Ireland.

These activities have included a series of advisory articles published in print media, a dedicated webpage at: www.cafre.ac.uk, an industry-wide late spring survey and 16 on-farm events organized by the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), supported by members of the working group.

Over the summer, working group members gathered information on silage quality, animal movements, and the potential impact of various scenarios on farms this winter. This work continues with the launch of an autumn survey to establish farmers’ plans and preparation for the winter period. The results of the survey will define the advice messages and support needed over the coming months. The survey was designed by AgriSearch and Ulster Farmer’s Union with input from all members of the working group.

In-person participants of the Rising Costs Industry Working Group at the September 5 meeting. Front row LR: Gill Gallagher (NIGTA), Paul McHenry (Chairman, CAFRE), Joanne Dale (DAERA), Mark Scott (CAFRE), Rodney Brown (Danske Bank), Louise Millsopp (DAERA), Wesley Aston (UFU), back row left to right: Mike Johnston (Dairy Council for Northern Ireland), Clodagh Crowe (Rural Support), Caroline Doyle (Barclays Bank), Jason Rankin (AgriSearch) and Conall Donnelly (NIMEA). Online participants Cormac McKervey (Ulster Bank), James Lowe (NIAPA), Sam Strain (AHWNI) and Peter Simpson (CAFRE) and Steven Morrison (AFBI).

The survey is now open and can be viewed at: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/GNRBP58. All organizations involved in the Rising Costs Industry Task Force will share a link to the survey encouraging all farmers to participate.

Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) President David Brown said: “In March 2022, the UFU called on the government, and in particular DAERA, to put in place contingency plans and to create a Northern Ireland (NI) Agriculture Task Force to deal with the impact that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is having on global supply. The DAERA then listened to the UFU and set up this working group with the UFU alongside other players in the sector, to provide information.

“The vital work of the task force has been limited because in the absence of an executive, the Minister of DAERA does not have the authority to allocate funds in relation to the deployment of agricultural value chain support. Our members have been very grateful to receive the single farm payment earlier than usual this year, but it must be stressed that with the rising cost of energy and fertiliser, this is not enough to cover the expenses in inputs, not to mention the upkeep of a house. This is why it is so important to get additional support agreed to by the executive.

“We hope that through the work of the task force, and if and when the executive gets back up and running, DAERA will have input from industry on how support should be deployed. Hopefully that will be sooner rather than later, as some commodity prices have failed to keep up with unprecedented input prices.

About Keneth T. Graves

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