Farm groups clash over coupled payments
The ICMSA and ICSA have rejected calls from the IFA for up to 10pc of the Irish single farm payment (SFP) envelope to be coupled and targeted towards the suckler beef and sheep sectors.
Asked if they wanted a return to coupled payments, both the ICSA and ICMSA came out strongly against such a move.
The ICSA said bringing back coupled payments would simply "play into the hands" of beef processors and retailers.
"Which is better, a weanling worth €1,000, beef making €4/kg and 100pc of your payment being decoupled, or a weanling worth €700, beef making €2.50/kg and your single farm payment cut in order to give you a suckler premium of maybe €60-70/cow? That's the reality of going back to a system that didn't work in the past and won't work in the future," the ICSA said. "Remember, this is not extra money, it's simply robbing Peter to give Peter a handout, with lots of terms and conditions. Superficially, it looks tempting, but when you factor in the costs associated with it such as quotas, retention periods and, of course, the inevitable fact that the meat factories will be laughing all the way to the bank with a guaranteed supply, it loses its value rapidly," the spokesman added.
Meanwhile, the ICMSA said a coupled payment would cost all farmers between €65m and €130m, depending on whether 5pc or 10pc was coupled.
"Given the likely reductions arising from convergence and other schemes such as the national reserve, a further 5pc cut to fund a coupled payment for suckler cows would be both illogical and unjustified," the ICMSA claimed.
"In our opinion, this is very definitely not the most pressing matter facing the sector and it represents yet another instance where it is being proposed that funds be diverted from the most productive and active sectors."
The IFA said a coupled payment would ensure "active productive farmers in vulnerable sectors and regions" were best supported.