IFA National Livestock Committee Chairman Henry Burns said the position being adopted by the Minster for Agriculture Simon Coveney on the abolition of the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme is not credible or acceptable.
Henry Burns said it is not credible for the Minister to claim that he is “fully supportive of the suckler sector and that the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme was a success and a great scheme” and at the same time abolish the scheme.
Henry Burns said if the Minister believes in the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme and if he is putting in the same amount of money into the suckler sector as last year, he then needs to ask himself the very serious question as to why he abolished the scheme in the Budget?
Minister Coveney has claimed people should not have been surprised at the decision he took in the budget to abolish the scheme. Henry Burns said not alone are the country’s 60,000 suckler farmers surprised, they are shocked and angry at the way the Minister targeted the low income drystock sector with his cuts to the farm scheme. The facts are the Minister abolished the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme and cut the Disadvantaged Areas payments and the Sheep Grassland Scheme.
Henry Burns said at a meeting with Minister Coveney prior to the Budget, IFA made it clear that the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme was vital to protecting the suckler herd and realising the Food Harvest 2020 targets on growth and jobs. Minister Coveney said he agreed with this view and the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme was vital.
In addition, Henry Burns said IFA undertook an intensive lobby for the retention of the Suckler Scheme with over 50 Government backbencher TDs across every rural constituency. The feedback from these TDs, having spoken with Minister Coveney, was that the Minister undertook the importance of the Suckler Welfare Scheme, the low incomes in the drystock sector and the scheme was in “safe hands”.
The reality is the Minister should not have abolished the Scheme and he should move at this stage to correct this bad decision and protect the national sucker cow herd.