€100m Beef Fund to be rolled out in 'very near future' - Creed

Michael Creed TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Michael Creed TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

The Minister for Agriculture has said he will be rolling out a support scheme to distribute the €100m beef fund to farmers 'in the very near future'.

Answering questions from TD Bernard Durkan, the Minister said he is having ongoing discussions with the EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan around the potential impact of a disorderly Brexit.

"The Commission have already made €50m available to Irish beef farmers as a response to market pressures, and this can be matched by national funding.

"I expect to be rolling out a support scheme with this funding in the very near future. I have also stressed the need for the Commission to be ready to deploy a further range of measures to mitigate the potential impacts on the agri-food and fisheries sector."

Just last week the new president of the ICSA, Edmond Phelan, said that the €100m beef fund must be distributed as soon as possible.

Mr Phelan said that while the association has not finalised its proposal for the distribution of the fund, feedlots must not receive any of the money — and that means any farmer with more than 200 head of cattle.

“Some suckler farmers say they took big losses but we have to look at who lost what,” he said.

“The beef finisher has to be looked after or he won’t be there to buy cattle next year.”

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However, the ICMSA has said dairy farmers could not be excluded from the package, and the IFA told members that compensation levels could be under €100/hd.

ICMSA officials claimed that the exclusion of dairy farmers from the aid package had been floated in preliminary discussions on the distribution of the fund.

ICMSA president Pat McCormack rejected what he described as discrimination against dairy farmers who had suffered Brexit-related losses on beef.

"A very significant number of dairy farmers also have a beef enterprise and the suggestion that their losses should be ignored is nothing less than a disgrace," Mr McCormack said.

While there has been some controversy regarding the requirement in the draft regulation for farmer applicants to reduce beef production, this was being downplayed by Government sources this week.

The reduction requirement was "not prescriptive" and there was "no reason to believe that it would be overly onerous", the Farming Independent was told.

The requirement would only relate to "one or two cows", and would just be for two years, at which point numbers could be reinstated, one official maintained.

However, it is generally accepted that the distribution of the aid package will be politically fraught for Minister Creed.

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