Speaking at the Tullamore Show today, IFA President Joe Healy said the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed must take decisive action to address the severe income difficulties on livestock farms this year.
He said, “The beef and sheep sectors are the heartbeat of rural Ireland, involving over 100,000 farmers and generating economic activity in every single parish across the country”.
On the market situation, Joe Healy said cattle prices are back an average of 40c/kg or €145 per head on this time last year. “This is having a severe income hit on farmers selling finished cattle off grass and also weanling and store producers selling at the marts. Minister Creed must deliver real access to new markets and strong competition in the trade in order to return viable prices to farmers.”
Joe Healy said practical measures are required to respond to the challenge of Brexit. With additional cattle numbers in the country he called on the Government to commit additional resources, in terms of manpower and funds, to secure greater market access for beef and live cattle. He said “It is essential more resources are provided to assist the live export trade and no effort can be spared to get the vitally important trade to Turkey moving as soon as possible. IFA has made it very clear to Minister Creed that a strong live export trade this autumn is essential for competition and to put a strong floor under weanling prices”.
In Budget 2017, Joe Healy said IFA is demanding an increase in support for our national suckler herd, which forms the basis of our 500,000t of quality beef exports. He said Minister Creed should immediately reopen the Beef Data and Genomics Scheme to farmers and provide an additional €25m in the Budget to increase payments to suckler farmers.
For sheep farmers, Joe Healy said IFA has secured €25m in the programme for Government for a new €10 per ewe sheep scheme. He said it is essential this scheme is finalised quickly with the EU Commission and progressed in order that farmers can apply and be guaranteed payment in 2017.
IFA is also insisting that the additional €25m allocated for ANCs payments is brought forward to Budget 2017, made available to farmers next year and not delayed until 2018 as currently planned.
Joe Healy said IFA has negotiated a 70% advance on the Basic Payment Scheme and higher advances for some RDP schemes for the autumn payment run. He said it is essential that the Department of Agriculture make all direct payments on time and in line with the deadlines set down in the Charter of Rights.
Summary of IFA Proposals to Government to address the income problems in the Livestock Sector
- Government must deliver real access to new markets and strong competition in the trade to return viable prices to farmers
- On the Brexit challenge, Government must commit additional resources, in terms of manpower and funds, to secure greater market access for beef and live cattle
- Minister Creed should immediately reopen the Beef Data and Genomics Scheme and provide an additional €25m in the Budget for suckler farmers
- It is essential the new €10 per ewe sheep scheme is finalised quickly with the EU Commission in order that farmers can apply and be guaranteed payment in 2017
- The additional €25m specified for ANCs payments must be brought forward to Budget 2017, and made available to farmers next year
- The Department of Agriculture must make all direct payments on time and in line with the Charter of Rights.