Farm leaders push for BEEP extension
Just a quarter of the country's suckler farmers have applied for the BEEP support package.
An extension of the application period for the €20m scheme has been sought by both the ICSA and IFA as a result of the low level of take-up.
It is understood that approximately 20,000 farmers had applied by last Friday's deadline, with close to 500,000 cows in the scheme.
However, a Department of Agriculture spokesman said the numbers were likely to increase substantially when all paper applications had been processed.
The farm organisations said the low-level of take-up of the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP), which is worth €40/cow, indicated that more time was needed for farmers to apply.
Official figures from the Department show with 24-hours to go to the deadline, it had received 15,807 applications.
A Department spokesman pointed out the figures were likely to increase when paper applications were fully processed.
The farm organisations said the low-level of take-up of BEEP, which is worth €40/cow, indicated that more time was needed for farmers to apply.
IFA livestock chairman Angus Woods called on Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to extend the closing date for the BEEP scheme to this Friday, March 1.
Mr Woods said the original application period was far too short.
ICSA suckler chair John Halley said it reflected the crisis in the suckler sector.
"This must serve as a wake-up call to beef processors, retailers and to the Government. The quality carcasses with higher proportions of high-value cuts will not be there for much longer," he warned.
"The beef processors need to face reality that the tactic of giving everything away too cheaply to retailers has now reached its unsustainable conclusion - a beef price that is at least €1.25/kg too cheap for suckler viability. The images used for marketing Irish beef of content suckler calves out on pasture with their dams is soon going to be fake because Irish beef won't be from sucklers anymore," he said.
"The idea that €40/cow was going to make any difference was an illusion when we now have typical suckler beef U-grade carcasses of 450kg being cut 10c/kg or €45/ head for being too heavy."
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