Suckler men set to scoop new CAP quality payment
Direct coupled payments to suckler farmers look set to be rejected in favour of a productivity-based scheme aimed at rewarding quality, the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, has revealed.
Minister Coveney told the Agricultural Science Association (ASA) conference that he would prefer to transfer funds from Pillar I to Pillar II to tailor a scheme to give farmers a payment for productivity.
"Coupled payments do not work in all situations. If a farmer does not have the capacity to increase his stocking rate, he cannot gain from a coupled payment," he told the conference.
"Coupled payments have a use but we cannot support people for producing animals regardless of the quality of those animals."
The Minister's comments come as Teagasc research on the effect of the new CAP revealed that 40pc of the output from the cattle sector was at risk, with suckler farmers facing a significant income fall.
Teagasc director Dr Gerry Boyle told the 350 conference delegates that Teagasc was very anxious to defend the beef sector, but it would take a very significant transfer of funds to encourage farmers that might want to leave suckling to remain in the system under the new CAP regime.
However, he added that Teagasc analysis of Pillar I (direct payments) funding showed that only "very modest" coupled payments for vulnerable sectors of agriculture were possible without creating distortions within and outside the cattle sector.
Reacting to Dr Boyle's comments, IFA president John Bryan warned that unless Minister Coveney took urgent action to protect the suckler industry, thousands of jobs would be lost in agriculture.