Micheal Martin accuses EU of breaking tradition to announce €100m beef fund

Micheal Martin speaking. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Micheal Martin speaking. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Micheal Martin hits out at Phil Hogan and the Government over funding announcement during election campaign.

The Fianna Fail leader has criticised the involvement of Ireland's European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan in approving a €50m beef support package.

He accused the Government of adopting a kitchen-sink strategy to campaigning, "whereby allocations of billions of euros are being announced and Ministers are refusing at point blank to explain where the money is coming from".

"The Taoiseach has even gone so far as to involve our European Commissioner in the unprecedented breaking of the tradition of the Commission refusing to make funding announcements during campaigns. 

"There was plenty of time before the campaigns," he said.

Last week the EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan announced a €50m fund for Irish beef farmers, from the European Commission. The Irish Government has said it will match the €50m, bringing the fund total to €100m. 

Phil Hogan, said the “fund recognises the particular difficulty that Irish beef farmers have experienced during an unprecedented and sustained period of low prices, principally driven by events beyond their control. 

"This fund will support a fragile but very important sector and protect its long-term viability. The European Commission has concluded that the sector is in need of an immediate response.”

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Yesterday, Minister Creed stated that farmers will be the only section to benefit from the beef package which was announced by the European Commission last week.

“Factories won’t benefit, full stop. I’m not aware of any factory that has suffered, I’m aware of farmers and finishers and suckler farmers that have and can assure you the €100m will be for those farmers not factories,” Minister Creed told The Joe Finnegan Show on Shannonside Northern Sound this morning.

“I can assure you we can make it happen that it will be just the farmers who benefit from this, that’s an imperative.

“We’re awaiting from the Commission of the exact terms and conditions. We will then go in to consultation with the industry to make sure we deliver the payments in the most effective way and in particularly just to farmers.”

The Minister added that his “ambition” is that the fund would be made available to farmers at the “earliest possible date” in the autumn.

In reaction to the announcement of the fund, farm organisations said they were adamant that factory-controlled feedlots should not get a payout under the aid package.

ICSA beef chairman, Edmund Graham, said payments to farmers should be completed by the end of July, and warned that any delay until autumn would be unacceptable.

It is estimated that around 800,000 prime cattle — young bulls, heifers and steers —were killed in the six months from the start of September to the end of March.

IFA president, Joe Healy, has said the allocation of the €100m to the farmers was critically important.

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