Farm Ireland

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Creed says €200 suckler cow payment is 'not feasible'

Photo: Roger Jones
Photo: Roger Jones
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has again poured cold water on proposals to increase payments under the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) to €200/cow.

In the Dail last week, Fianna Fail’s Bobby Aylward hit out at what he said was the administrative burden and low returns of the Government's €52 million BDGP scheme.  

He said the scheme is undermining the industry as the scheme is running at 30% behind its participation target, due he said a lot of issues with ‘red tape’.

“The original target was 35,000 but fewer than 24,500 have signed up. Does the Minister agree that the 35,000 farmers' enrolment target is not attainable and an underspend is going to happen?

“This is the money which I reckon will be left over,” Aylward said.

He said if the Minister looked at providing €200 for the first 30 cows with the money that is left over, it would go a long way to help the beef farmer and keep the beef industry alive.

However, Minister Creed hit back by saying there are no easy answers.

“Under the rural development programme, while we have reopened BDGP, we will spend all of the €300 million. Not only will we spend all the €300 million under BDGP, we will spend the entire envelope under the rural development programme.

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“That gives rise to very interesting challenges in the context of the Deputies' proposal.

“There is no easy way out of this. Irrespective of whether it is €200 for every cow or the tapered programme involving the first 30 cows, it has to come from some other area of funding.

“If they are serious about this, they need to either identify the schemes they want to close off in order to fund it or they need to come out straight and say they want to take from the basic payments of hill sheep farmers, organic farmers or other small farmers to give it to a particular sector.

“The Deputy knows that is not feasible and will not happen. I would not lightly propose such a linear cut. The Deputy knows the difficulty we face in getting a linear cut in respect of the national reserve for new entrants.

“The truth is that there is no headroom in respect of the rural development programme. The only other way to do it is to cut the basic payment.

“Alternatively the Deputy may be proposing an Exchequer-funded scheme. That funding is not there but we then run into state-aid rules,” the Minister said.

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