Covid-19's impact on agriculture sector to increase

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said increased domestic demand is not enough compensation for fall in exports. File picture.

The impact of the coronavirus crisis on the agriculture sector is likely to increase in the coming days.

The Government issued the warning as it holds discussions with the EU on how best to support the sector.

A helpline has been set up for farmers to get information on supports available.

60% of Ireland's beef exports are for food services.

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said demand has been badly hit abroad:

"Food services, fast food joints, restaurants, hotels, and to be honest that has virtually collapsed across all of our major markets," he said.

"So there is a real challenge there. There has been some consequent increase in the retail side but not at an order of magnitude that would compensate for what we are losing in those markets.

Meanwhile, retailers have been urged not to reduce the price they are paying meat processors for beef.

Farming group Beef Plan said it would be an important step in ensuring food supply chains are maintained during the current pandemic.

Yesterday Tesco announced it would continue paying processors the same price it paid for beef in January, pre-Covid-19.

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