IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said the new €20m funding for suckler farmers announced in this week’s Budget was recognition of the income crisis in the sector, but the level of funding was disappointing and more needs to be done to help sustain the suckler herd.
He said it was essential that the measures under the new Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) were kept simple, farmer friendly and do not involve unnecessary costs.
He said the understanding is that the BEEP will be a new scheme, separate from the BDGP and the main measures will involve the recording of data on weights for cows and calves. He said the full details and how they will be implemented have to be worked out with the Department and it was essential that there was full consultation.
Angus Woods said the increased ANC funding of €23m, to bring the allocation to €250m, was positive and reverses the cuts imposed on the lowest income farmers in previous budgets. He said IFA will continue its campaign for increased funding of €300m as it is vital for low-income farmers on marginal land.
Angus Woods said IFA was determined to secure a set of targeted direct payment supports in order to maintain the suckler cow herd, which he described as the backbone of the €3bn.Irish beef sector.
He said IFA believe strongly in the importance of the suckler cow sector and will continue to campaign hard for increased supports. Angus Woods pointed out that a recent report commissioned by the IFA from Professor Thia Hennessey from UCC highlighted that 80% of the cows in the West are sucklers and a 10% reduction in suckler cow numbers would result in a €305m reduction in economic output across rural areas.
In what has been a very challenging year for farmers, Angus Woods said this week’s Budget was some acknowledgment of the income difficulties in agriculture, but the upcoming major issues of Brexit and CAP will require much more Government commitment and support for farming.