Farm Ireland

Friday 28 July 2017

Creed says cuts to other farm schemes needed to fund €200/cow suckler payment

Sucklers well stocked up on the Cass farm, Abbeyleix, Co Laois. Picture: Alf Harvey/
Sucklers well stocked up on the Cass farm, Abbeyleix, Co Laois. Picture: Alf Harvey/
Farmers have given strong backing for some form of coupled payment
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The Government have been under pressure from farm organisations to provide a new €200/cow suckler payment which they is essential for the survival of the beef sector.

However, in the Dail this week the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed poured cold water on the idea stating that the annual cost of such a measure would exceed €200m.

He said the introduction of a specific coupled payment for suckler cows would involve a redistribution of funds allocated to farmers.

This he said would necessitate a linear cut across payment to all basic payment scheme beneficiaries. 

“Even if a revised scheme were approved, any increase in the level of payment would inevitably result in additional actions being required to be carried out by farmers,” he said

Creed said the beef data and genomics programme is the current main support to the suckler sector and provides farmers with some €300 million of funding over the next six  years.

“The provision of support for the suckler sector is critically important. 

“The range of supports as currently configured represents a balance between direct income support for the sector and rural development measures designed to improve its competitiveness and sustainability.

“It is entirely appropriate to maintain this balance of developmental and income supports into the future,” he said.

However, according to Fianna Fail’s Agriculture Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue there is scope for funding the payment through Ireland’s Rural Development Programme which he says the Government are underutilising.

“It is time the Minister stopped bluffing farmers about the Government's approach to the rural development programme.

“I have stated on several occasions that the Department is significantly underspending the allocation for the rural development programme.

“As matters stand, the Department is on course to record an underspend of €400 million in GLAS by the end of 2020.

“That figure is based on information provided by the Minister in a written answer. If he does the maths, he will see it is correct,” McConalogue said.

Defending his Departments performance Minister Creed said as with all such programmes, there are inevitably issues of timing around the scheduling of payments. 

“Savings in one year do not necessarily imply savings over the lifetime of the programme,” he stressed.

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