Farm Ireland

Monday 19 February 2018

Minister says farmers using EU payments to subsidise farming practices is ‘unsustainable’ in the long term

Independent Minister Denis Naughten. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Independent Minister Denis Naughten. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten has said the farmers subsiding there business with EU payments is not sustainable.

Speaking in the Dail, the Minister pointed to an article in the Farming Independent which said Brexit will force farmers to look at competition issues and how efficient beef production is in this country compared to other European and international players.

“Colleagues in the House from rural Ireland will know that the vast majority of suckler farmers are using the payments they get from Brussels to subsidise farming practices.

"That is unsustainable in the long term.

Read more: Brexit will force Irish farmers to be more competitive

“There are ways whereby we can make agriculture more efficient from a carbon perspective, as well as ways to ensure that farmers get a far greater return for the product they are producing.

“In fairness, the beef data and genomics programme is an innovative step to start that process. It is a difficult process.

“We are trying to shoehorn into the beef sector technology advances that have taken 25 years to develop in the dairy sector. It is a step in the right direction.

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“It is seen internationally as an innovative measure to deal with the real and practical problems,” he said.

It comes as 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.

Fianna Fail's Bobby Aylward hit out at what he said was the administrative burden and low returns of the Government's €52m BDGP scheme.

Mr Aylward told the Dail that the scheme was running 30pc behind its participation target and many of the issues were due to '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," Mr 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 €300m.

"Not only will we spend all the €300m under BDGP, we will spend the entire envelope under the rural development programme," he said.

"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," he added.

The second round of the BDGP programme closed last night, with 1,900 farmers understood to have applied with several days still to go.

Payments under the scheme amount to €142.50/ha on the first 6.66ha and €120/ha thereafter.

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