Suckler cow herd won't be reduced - Creed

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

There are no plans to reduce the suckler cow herd to facilitate the expansion of the dairy sector, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, has said.

In a recent Dáil debate Sligo-Leitrim Fianna Fáil TD Eamon Scanlon asked Minister Creed if he had plans to decrease the suckler sector to pave the way for dairy expansion.

Minister Creed insisted that "no Department policy has ever been introduced to sustain that perception".

"I have no plans to reduce the suckler cow herd to facilitate the expansion of the dairy sector," he said.

"Decisions to expand or reduce herd sizes in any sector are matters for individual farmers, determined by their own best interests and, of course, subject to adherence to relevant environmental regulation.

"All the efforts we have made have been about trying to deliver supports. Any funds we can get our hands on have been targeted at the beef sector.

"In providing these very significant supports to suckler farmers, my objective has been to introduce measures that encourage farmers to make the best decisions possible to improve profitability and the environmental and economic efficiency of the farming system.

"I will continue to support suckler farmers and to be guided by those principles."

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On the terms and conditions and supply reduction of the €50m Brexit beef fund from the EU, the Minister said the Department's ­submission contained no proposals for supply reduction - and is available to read on the Department's website.

He added that he doesn't envisage that the stipulation attached to the fund to reduce production "will inflict any long-term structural damage to the industry".

Minister Creed pointed to the EU support package distributed to dairy farmers during the dairy crisis in 2016 which required a reduction in production.

"Interventions by the Commission come with terms and conditions attached and we make the effort to ensure the Department and the agriculture community are in a position to live within those terms and conditions," he said.

Damaging

"My thought process is that it is manageable. We managed it in the dairy industry without damaging the sector and can also manage it in the beef sector."

Fianna Fáil Agriculture spokesperson Charlie McConalogue claimed that Irish farmers has been "misled" by the Minister and Commissioner Hogan on the fund as "there was no mention of this funding being tied to stock reduction or restructuring before voters went to the polls in the local and European elections".

"It was entirely sold as a market disturbance measure to address income loss," Deputy McConalogue said.

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