Concern over factory controlled feed-lots access to €100m beef fund

'Suckler farmers also experienced losses' - Concern beef package will only benefit cattle finishers

EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Reuters
EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Reuters
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The distribution of a new aid package for beef farmers has been greeted by some with concerns raised that factory owned feedlots may have access to the supports.

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association are insisting that any support measure must include the suckler sector.

The €50m fund allows the Irish Government the possibility to match this fund, which would bring the total amount of financial support for Irish beef farmers to €100m.

INHFA President Colm O’Donnell said while the main focus over the last number of months stated O’Donnell “has been on losses incurred by beef finishers, suckler farmers selling through the marts have also experienced major losses which needs to be recognised and included in this support fund.”

These farmers he added “are at least €100/head back on where they were in 2017 and this is the minimum payment they need” 

Clearly, he continued “beef finishers who have been impacted will need to be supported and we have no problem with this, however, we also need to consider the fact that 20pc of finished stock comes from factory controlled feed-lots which are seen by many as a mechanism to deflate the price.”

Details of how beef farmers will receive the money or its distribution have yet to be announced. It is not clear whether beef processors may receive any of the funds.

There is speculation that the money could be distributed based on cattle slaughter numbers from late last year, with farmers and possibly feed lots, who slaughtered large numbers of cattle in these months receiving the most money in this scenario. Another possibility is that, similar to the EU dairy aid package, when €26.4m was allocated to dairy farmers in the form of flat payments of just under €1,400 per farmer.

It is understood the Government is expected to provide matching funding of €50m as it reels from plunging satisfaction ratings and heavy criticism of both Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and under fire Agriculture Minister Michael Creed.

Asked about Phil Hogan’s deal for farmers, and if its announcement a few days before elections is a coincidence, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said “No, if we could have got it over the line a few weeks ago we would have been very happy to, as you can imagine."

"As a government we’ve been listening to what beef farmers have to say. We appreciate and understand that the beef price is very low and the cost of production is now exceeding the cost farmers can get from the factories, so we wanted to help and the Commission has now put some money on the table so we need to now work out the detail of that but we’d expect that money to flow to farmers within the next couple of months," he said.

Online Editors