Farmers 'turn on each other' over the distribution of beef supports

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Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The distribution of the recently announced €100m beef support package for the beef sector has seen farmers turn on each other.

The scheme which specifically excludes dairy farmers which may also have beef enterprises and could see farmers receive payments up to €10,000 has led to heated debate in the farming community.

The President of Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), Pat McCormack expressed surprise at what he termed “the enthusiasm” with which some farmers have been turning on other farmers and dismissing their legitimate claims to consideration.

Referring specifically to the Brexit Beef Fund, but also hinting at a broader trend, McCormack said that he genuinely felt that some contributors to the debate on the division of the fund seemed more intent on dividing farmers into sub-groups and categories and ‘us’ and  ‘them’ categories than they were on defending the position of all farmers.

“It’s really a matter for individual farm organisations, and I’ll say this in the knowledge that ICMSA has its own special areas of interest and particular focus.

"But we’d all want to remember that we’ve never had more opponents and parties and individuals who genuinely want to see our interests put aside and our voices silenced.

"They’re out there, and they mean farmers – all farmers - absolutely no good.

"So, I’m not sure that we have the luxury of turning on each other the way that unfortunately seems to be happening right now and I mean specifically in relation to the Brexit Beef Fund."

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His comments came as new Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association President Edmond Phelan it was unconscionable to think that money would be diverted paid to dairy farmers who he said despite having a relatively bad year themselves, still managed earnings of €61,273 in 2018.

"It defies logic for anyone to lobby for their inclusion in this particular exceptional aid measure.”

“The difference in annual incomes is clear for all to see and points directly at where the funds should go. There was a dairy rescue package a few years ago and there was no question of some of that money going to beef finishers or suckler farmers," he said.

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