'Coupled payments an MII cop-out'
The ICSA has slated calls for a coupled payment on suckler cows and called instead for the factories to pay more for beef and for the return of a 'REPS-type' scheme for beef producers.
Both the IFA and Meat Industry Ireland (MII) have strongly supported the introduction of a coupled payment on the suckler herd to protect farmer incomes and stop the slow decline in beef cow numbers.
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But, describing the call for coupled as a "cop-out" by the beef industry, the ICSA accused MII of wanting farmers to produce more beef stock at low prices so that processors could maximise their profits.
"The meat industry wants a coupled payment so that farmers continue to produce more and more cattle at a price less than the cost of production. That has always been the policy of the meat industry," said ICSA suckler chair John Halley.
And in a veiled reference to the IFA's efforts to secure a €200/hd coupled suckler payment, Mr Halley said farm organisations that supported the meat industry proposals should "look at basic economic principles".
"When we had coupled payments, beef price was €2.50/kg," he said. "When you hear the meat industry looking for a coupled payment, you should know it's because they are seeing dollar signs."
Mr Halley questioned how a €200/hd coupled payment would be funded and what schemes would have to be sacrificed if it were introduced.
"There is no country in Europe that gives a €200 coupled payment per suckler cow. But if we do close down other schemes to fund a new scheme, we need to be very precise about devising a scheme that puts real money into the pockets of the farmer," he cautioned.