EU countries vote in favour of €50m Irish Brexit beef fund

Suckler cows
Suckler cows
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

EU Member States today agreed to a proposal from the European Commission to make €50 million available to Irish beef farmers, which can be matched by national funds to reach a maximum of €100 million.

The establishment of the fund reflects the Commission recognition of the particular challenges facing the Irish beef and veal sector due to market uncertainty and an unprecedented and sustained period of low prices.

This exceptional measure, provided under the Common Market Organisation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), will offer support to the Irish farmers affected.

Due to the drop in prices, with a fall in margins estimated at 11 to 19pc in the past year for the beef and veal sector, the Irish authorities have calculated that beef farmers have lost just over €100 million.

Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said the fund is a recognition by the European Commission of the particular difficulties experienced by Irish beef farmers arising from significant prices falls and market uncertainty.

“The beef fund was put forward for Ireland in response to a very difficult financial situation of the beef sector in Ireland. Some of it is market related and more of it Brexit related and this substantial loss of income for farmers in Ireland is not replicated by any other Member State," he said at a press conference held earlier this week.

Once formally adopted by the Commission early next month, the Irish authorities will have until the end of July to design the criteria within a set framework for granting the aid.

They must avoid the distortion of competition when distributing it. One of the key objectives should be to ensure the beef and veal sector's long-term viability through, for example, the development of new markets, the implementation of quality schemes, or the improvement of farmers' environmental sustainability.

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IFA President Joe Healy said the clearance of the regulation paves the way for the Department of Agriculture to pay out the funds to farmers.

“IFA is clear that the funding must go to farmers who sold prime finished cattle since last autumn, and to suckler farmers.  We have set out six principles as regards how the funding should be allocated. This has received strong support at our eight regional meetings, the last of which takes place in Letterkenny tonight,” he said.

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