Farm Ireland

Sunday 21 January 2018

Creed rules out €200m suckler subsidy plan

IFA's €200/hd proposal would cause 'blue murder', says Minister

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed. Photo: Tony Gavin
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed. Photo: Tony Gavin
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has ruled out demands for increased supports for suckler producers and also questioned the feasibility of an emergency fund for tillage farmers.

The IFA, backed by Meat Industry Ireland, has called for a direct coupled payment of up to €200/cow for all suckler cows. This would cost an estimated €200m a year for the national beef herd.

However, Minister Creed said the proposals are unworkable.

"Those advocating this, be it the IFA or anybody else, are avoiding the obvious questions.

"The way a coupled payment would be funded is that you top slice everybody else's single farm payment and you fund it out of [CAP] pillar one," Minister Creed told the Farming Independent.

"That would cause blue murder. Farmers won't want their single farm payment to be cut by the extent that would be necessary to fund a €200 suckler cow payment," he said.

On the ICSA proposal of a payment of €200/cow on every cow a farmer removes from their herd over a five-year period, the Minister said: "If the problem is in over-supply and you incentivise a payment on suckler cows, it's going to be counter productive and encourage even more production."

He also said bringing a suckler subsidy scheme under the Rural Development Programme (RDP) would be unreasonable and ruled out direct funding from other Exchequer resources.

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"We need to have a bit of honesty around this search for €200m. The Exchequer is state aid and that wouldn't be allowed.

"I don't propose a cull, or a coupled payment, or a payment out of the RDP because I'm not taking it off sheep farmers, disadvantaged areas, or any existing commitments - and I don't have the space to do it anywhere else. All of our funding is committed," he said.

Instead, Minister Creed believes ensuring maximum levels of competition in the beef sector will ease income pressures and a cattle glut.

"Live exports are critical and we're hoping to see more growth in live shipments, with the possibility of live shipments to Egypt in 2017. China is a significant market that the industry is anxious to explore.

"At the moment the Commission is leading trade negotiations with Japan and we would see opportunities there, particularly on the beef side," he said.

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