Meat factories call for coupled supports

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Meat Industry Ireland have called for coupled supports to be reintroduced in the next CAP for suckler cows and sheep.

In its submission to the Department of Agriculture on the CAP post 2020 - seen by the Farming Independent - MII said that despite the trend of recent CAP reforms, the last number of years has clearly shown the need for coupled support for certain sectors and farm enterprises.

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In particular, it said the suckler cow herd and the sheep sector have been identified as vulnerable sectors.

"These sectors which are so important in many regions of the EU and which offer the only realistic farm enterprise pursuit due to land type and structures warrant coupled support," said the MII submission.

"Experience has shown that the recognition of specific margin challenges in these sectors for both suckler beef and sheep enterprises. Therefore, the CAP post-2020 must provide for coupled direct support for the beef suckler herd and the sheep flock."

Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed told a recent meeting of EU farm ministers that while coupled payments may have a role to play in some vulnerable sectors, he is not sure it would be wise to divert significant sums of Pillar 1 monies into coupled support payments.

"In such vulnerable sectors, efforts should focus on efficiency, market focus and ensuring the market returns a satisfactory price for the end product.

"Improving the position of the farmer in the food supply chain would help in this endeavour," he said.

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Assistant secretary in the Department of Agriculture, Colm Hayes, went further recently, stating at an Oireachtas Agriculture Committee hearing that the Department has a long-standing policy of not having coupled supports under the CAP.

"We have one exception to that, which is the protein aid scheme but in terms of livestock, it is not something we have done for a long time now," Mr Hayes explained.

"The Minister has been very clear on this in the face of calls for €200 payments for suckler cows and that kind of thing. If we are to fund that, it has to come from the overall envelope which could mean a linear cut to everybody's payment.

"It is essentially incentivising - or forcing - people to retain animals they may not otherwise want because they want to be part of the scheme.

"I do not see us in any way going back to the days of coupled supports under the next CAP and the regulations do not allow for a lot of it anyway," he said.

A spokesperson for the IFA said in the context of increased CAP funding the option of introducing more coupled payments as part of the next CAP must be considered in targeting support to active farmers in vulnerable sectors.

MII also called in its submission for market support measures to be made more effective, particularly for meat sector.

Indo Farming