Declan O'Brien: Factories and IFA couple up
There was a mix of good and worrying news from the Agricultural Science Association (ASA) conference in Waterford last week.
The good news came in the form of the strong and reasoned support that Minister Simon Coveney offered for the suckler sector.
The worry stemmed from his comments regarding exchequer support for Pillar II and the impact this will have on a raft of rural development and farm schemes.
However, let's start with the positive. Minister Coveney's backing for some form of support measure for the suckler sector that is not simply based on numbers has to be welcome.
The suggestion by the minister that such a move is likely to be financed by funds transferred from Pillar II to Pillar I will also come as a relief to non-suckler farmers who have been less than enthused with the prospect of having their single farm payment used to finance the beef sector.
Explaining his position, Minister Coveney told the ASA conference that coupled payments did not work in all situations and that the Department of Agriculture could not justify supporting farmers for producing stock regardless of the quality.
The clamour for coupled payments has seen the IFA and the factories on the same side of the fence for the first time in quite a while.
Their alliance on this issue will undoubtedly be strengthened by the recent Teagasc findings on the effect of the new CAP which revealed that 40pc of the output from the cattle sector was at risk, with suckler farmers facing a significant income fall.