Farm Ireland

Sunday 18 March 2018

Fianna Fail calls for farm buildings and GLAS monies to be redirected towards suckler cow payments

Creed says existing payments to suckler farmers already provide equivalent of €500/cow

Fianna Fail says the underspend in the Department of Agriculture soared to €186 million
Fianna Fail says the underspend in the Department of Agriculture soared to €186 million
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Fianna Fail is to call for monies not yet spent under the TAMS and GLAS schemes to be redirected towards increased payments to suckler farmers.

Fianna Fáil Agriculture and Food Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue said his party is prioritising the suckler sector and over 75,000 farm families nationwide with a Dáil motion this coming Wednesday under private members time.

“In our motion, we also instruct the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to review the current underspend accruing across several Rural Development Programme (RDP) schemes and report back within two months to the Oireachtas on a roadmap towards targeting RDP underspend to suckler and other vulnerable sectors.

“The underspend in the Department of Agriculture soared to €186m over the last two years, while several 2014-2020 RDP schemes are on course to underspend significantly, such as GLAS and TAMS.

“The Government has refused at every avenue to look at all options to introduce a €200 payment per suckler cow. Fianna Fáil has championed this as a key policy and will continue to campaign for its delivery.

“Suckler farmers are being let down with the Government accepting at least 70,000 extra tonnes of South American Mercosur beef into the EU. The timing of this couldn’t be any worse for farmers with Brexit having the potential to place tariffs on half of all our beef exports.

McConalogue said suckler farmers underpin our €2.5 billion beef exports, they generate average incomes below €13,000 each year and are fully dependent on CAP supports to maintain their livelihoods.

“The suckler sector is facing threats on many fronts with successive Fine Gael led Governments found wanting."

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In a debate on the issue last week Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said he was aware of the importance of the suckler sector to Ireland's rural economy and the wider agrifood industry.

"My Department provides a range of income and investment supports to suckler farmers, including direct payments and grant schemes such as the basic payment scheme, the areas of natural conservation, ANC, scheme, GLAS and TAMS, as well as the beef data and genomics programme, BDGP.

"Analysis of Teagasc national farm survey data shows that existing direct payments to suckler farmers provide support equivalent to approximately €500 per suckler cow."

"There is no exodus from suckler herd farming. Indeed, it was expected that with the lifting of dairy quotas, there would be a significantly greater exodus.

"The current figures show a reduction of in or around 6pc in the suckler cow herd from just under 1 million to approximately 960,000. Most of that reduction has not happened along the western seaboard but in Kilkenny, Carlow, Waterford, which has the highest number, and Cork. That is mostly because activity is being displaced into dairy production.

"There is no mass exodus and it is important that we not talk ourselves into a crisis.

Creed said to provide funding under Pillar 1, there will be a cut of just under 20pc in every farmer's basic payment.

"I do not propose to do that, but it is unclear whether Fianna Fáil proposes to do that," he said.

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