IFA National Livestock Committee Chairman Henry Burns said the maintenance of the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme (SCWS) in 2013 and beyond will be a key test of Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney’s commitment to beef and suckler farmers. He said the Scheme is vital to suckler farmers and particularly the beef sector’s ability to service and grow high quality retail market outlets in line with the Food Harvest 2020 targets.
Henry Burns called on Minister Coveney to close off any uncertainty over the scheme and to confirm its future continuation. He said recent non-committal comments over the scheme were unhelpful.
Speaking at the IFA National Executive meeting in Dublin, Henry Burns said there can be no more cuts to farm schemes and Minister Coveney would have to look elsewhere for savings. “The recent Value for Money review of the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme undertaken by Minister Coveney’s own Department recognised the major contribution of the scheme and most importantly recommended its future continuation.”
Henry Burns said the Value for Money report highlights the improvements in animal welfare, the collection of breeding data and improved competitiveness as a result of the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme. The report concludes ‘the animal welfare measures have contributed to improved prices and improved reputation of Irish beef and live exports in key markets’.
The IFA livestock leader said there are over 35,000 suckler farmers involved in the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme. “Most of the difficult bureaucracy and administration problems have now been resolved and the scheme is operating much smoother. The Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme is absolutely essential in terms of securing the data to drive future genetic improvement in the Irish beef and livestock sector.”