IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods will lead an IFA delegation of livestock farmers to attend an Oireachtas debate this evening on a motion calling for increased supports for the suckler sector. The motion, tabled by Fianna Fail, is supportive of the IFA’s campaign for investment of €200 per suckler cow.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Angus Woods said, “This motion is very timely and positive. The improved national finances mean the Government is in an ideal position to invest in the suckler herd, and to tackle the income crisis facing the country’s 100,000 livestock farmers.
“I am calling on Minister Creed to come on side and support our campaign, to back Irish suckler farmers and the case for €200 per cow”.
Angus Woods said it will be a major challenge to get €200 for suckler cows, “IFA worked hard and got an extra €50m from the last Minister, Simon Coveney, for the BDGP scheme. While this is worth €80 to €100 per cow, it was too complicated and got tied up in knots, which turned many farmers off.”
He said IFA also succeeded in securing a €10 per ewe sheep welfare scheme and an additional €25m in ANC payments.
The IFA livestock leader said suckler farmers are under severe income pressure and cow numbers are falling. The latest figures from ICBF show that suckler registrations are down by 20,272 to 943,503. Since 2012, overall numbers have fallen by 132,207, which is a 12% reduction from the peak.
“Minister Creed is telling farmers that under state aid rules he cannot pay €200 per cow. IFA has been to Brussels and the EU Commission is clear that Ireland can make a targeted payment of €200 per cow under the animal welfare option in the CAP Rural Development Plan, which can be financed with exchequer funding,” Angus Woods said.
“The Minister and the Government are looking at a financial surplus of over €3bn heading into the next Budget and we are also heading into a possible election this year. The resources are there and it a matter of priorities for Minister Creed”.
Rejecting the spurious argument being put forward that the €200 suckler support will cost other farmers, Angus Woods said IFA is very clear. “We will not pitch farmer against farmer. IFA is demanding new money from the Government for this support and flatly reject any suggestions that it would be taken from any farmer’s Basic Payment. ”
The IFA livestock leader also pointed out that 24 countries out of 28 across Europe are already providing specific support for the beef sector. The odd ones out are Ireland, Luxembourg, Cyprus and Estonia. France has 4.2m sucklers and they have supports of €178 per cow support.
Angus Woods said suckler farmers need and deserve to be supported. Beef is the most important farming sector in terms of farmer numbers and worth up to €3bn in exports. “There are suckler cows in every parish in the country and they are the backbone of the quality Irish beef sector.”
An IFA study, carried out by UCD, shows that every €1 in support for sucklers underpins €4.28 of output in the Irish economy.
IFA and the Irish Farmers Journal are holding nine farmer meetings in marts across the country over the coming weeks to ramp up the campaign for increased support for suckler farmers. The next meeting takes place in Cootehill mart on this Thursday night Feb 22nd at 7pm and all farmers are invited to attend.