The IFA Livestock Committee has strongly criticised the proposals put forward for suckler and beef farmers in the Department of Agriculture’s CAP consultation document.
Speaking after the meeting, IFA Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden said members are very disappointed at the lack of ambition to provide meaningful support to the sector, and at the underhanded attempts to limit the national suckler herd through the proposed suckler cow scheme.
The Committee, which met on Friday, consists of democratically-elected representatives of suckler and beef farmers from every county in the country.
Setting out the conclusions of the Committee, Brendan Golden said any attempt to limit or cap the national suckler herd has been rejected out of hand and will not be accepted by IFA.
He said Irish suckler farmers operate one of the most environmentally sustainable beef farming systems in the world and are a critical component of beef production, within the higher environmental standards that are being imposed on farming and food production by the EU in the new CAP.
The IFA Livestock Chairman said suckler farmers must be directly supported in the Strategic Plans for what they do. These must include a payment of €300/cow with no underhand attempts within the scheme to limit or cap the national herd.
The Livestock Committee also strongly rejected the compulsion to be part of the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme (QA) as a condition of eligibility to receive payments. QA is recognised as a market requirement and as such farmers who participate must be rewarded from the market place
“It’s not acceptable or appropriate to impose this requirement as a condition of the suckler scheme. Farmers are already measuring carbon in existing schemes without the requirement to be part of the Bord Bia QA Scheme,” he said.
The IFA Chairman was also very critical of the Department’s failure to include a cattle rearing and finishing scheme in the Strategic Plans. IFA has made proposals to the Department of Agriculture to extend the Pilot Dairy Calf to beef scheme to include meaningful payments to farmers who rear and finish weanlings and stores from suckler farms. These farmers must be provided with a scheme that returns at least €100 an animal.
Brendan Golden said productive suckler and beef farmers are those that are most dependent on strong direct supports, which account for up to 160% of FFI on these farms. They are also the farmers who are impacted most by the convergence and Eco Scheme proposals within Pillar I.
“Eco Schemes must be designed to ensure every farmer, at a minimum, is provided with the opportunity to claim back all the monies that is taken from their individual entitlement value,” he said.
There is ample opportunity within Pillar II to offset this impact and reward Irish suckler and beef farmers directly for the food we produce to the standards imposed on us by the EU. The key question is there a willingness from our Minister for Agriculture to formulate Strategic Plans and provide the co-financing allowed in Pillar II to achieve these objectives.
Brendan Golden said while the requirements for the new CAP are challenging, there is nothing stopping the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue in the National Strategic Plans from ensuring supports are directed in a targeted manner to suckler and beef farmers that reflect the standards and quality of production on these farms and the contribution to the environmental objectives in these production systems.
He said the current proposals for livestock farmers in the Pillar II schemes must be fundamentally changed. IFA will be putting forward a detailed response to the consultation process and raising these issues directly with the Minister for Agriculture.