Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 24 June 2017

Minister and IFA on collision course over suckler cash

'Blue murder brewing among beef farmers', warns Healy

There are an estimated 40,000 stockbulls used in Irish beef herds, serving an average of 10 cows per year. This represents a massive overhead cost on the beef sector
There are an estimated 40,000 stockbulls used in Irish beef herds, serving an average of 10 cows per year. This represents a massive overhead cost on the beef sector
IFA President Joe Healy Picture: Finbarr O'Rourke
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

IFA president Joe Healy and Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed are at loggerheads on finding a workable solution to the deepening income crisis in the beef sector.

While the IFA continue to demand increased direct supports for suckler producers of up to €200 per cow, Minister Creed has repeated his staunch opposition to this proposal based on funding concerns.

It is estimated that such a grant would cost an estimated €200m a year for the national herd.

Although the IFA claim the subsidy could be financed through a combination of CAP pillar one, pillar two and national funding, the farm organisation refuses to pinpoint exactly where cuts or reductions could be made in order to free up new cash-flow.

This lack of specific detail rankles with Minister Creed.

"Top slicing CAP and rural development options are two routes I am not prepared to go and I don't have €200m in Exchequer funding.

"I'm open to hearing more details of their proposal but as it stands, all our funding is committed," said Minister Creed.

In a statement to the Farming Independent, Joe Healy has hit back at the Minister's assessment of their proposal and challenges him to bring forward a solution. "IFA has a proposal for a €200 per suckler cow payment. The Minister has put nothing on the table. How exactly does he plan to address the chronic low-income situation facing livestock farmers?"

Mr Healy also criticised the Minister for recently stating that the IFA proposal would cause "blue murder" among farmers if single farm payments were cut in order to implement the subsidy.

"'Blue murder' is exactly what is brewing now among beef farmers who want to know what the Minister proposes to do about unsustainable incomes in the beef sector."

Direct support

Although Mr Healy acknowledges that live exports have a very important part to play, he stresses that there is no guarantee increased competition will translate into increased beef prices for farmers.

"Even if we do source new markets, farmers have no confidence that they will see a price return from this.

"That's why we have to look at direct support, which is guaranteed to put money in farmers' pockets rather than benefiting a small number of processors and retailers," he said.

Meanwhile, Patrick Kent, ICSA president, maintains that a payment of €200/cow on every cow that farmers remove from their herd over a five-year period is the "only way forward" to reduce beef numbers.


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