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Thursday 8 December 2016

€17m from Beef Data scheme goes to dairy

Published 02/12/2015 | 02:30

Pictured at the ICMSA AGM were (l/r) Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney TD, EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan, ICMSA president John Comer, general secretary John Enright and deputy president Pat McCormack. Diarmuid Greene/Fusionshooters.
Pictured at the ICMSA AGM were (l/r) Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney TD, EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan, ICMSA president John Comer, general secretary John Enright and deputy president Pat McCormack. Diarmuid Greene/Fusionshooters.

A massive €17m underspend in the Beef Data Genomics Programme is being redirected into the dairy aid package, according to Fianna Fail's agriculture spokesman, Éamon Ó Cuív.

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At the ICMSA's AGM last week the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, said that the dairy support would be paid out to farmers before the end of the year.

However, he declined to reveal just how much would be paid on top of the €13.7m that was allocated to Ireland from the €420m pot sanctioned by the EU Commission. Each member state can top up the amount by up to 100pc.

The measure was introduced to help dairy farmers in a number of EU states cope with fines incurred last spring. In Ireland's case, 6,000 farmers are set to share a levy of €69m, which will be deducted from milk cheques over the next three years.

However, Mr Ó Cuív claims that the supplementary estimates, which were circulated last week, show that it will be the significant shortfall in spending on the genomics scheme that will make up the majority of the extra aid for dairy farmers. He said that €69m of the additional €78m top up sought by the Department of Agriculture will be used to pay the €69m LPIS fine.

"This leaves another €9m, which I believe will be channelled into the dairy fund," said Mr Ó Cuív.

"This is only possible by virtue of the €17m of savings that was recorded for the genomics scheme. While I'm fully supportive of dairying, it cannot be at the expense of the suckler farmer."

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