Farm Ireland

Monday 19 March 2018

'Vulnerable' dairy men could benefit from coupling proposal

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Farm organisations are working on proposals to ring-fence a portion of a recoupled EU payment for smaller dairy farmers.

While dairy leaders in both the IFA and the ICMSA were reluctant to be drawn on the exact details of their proposals, they admitted that plans were advancing to establish a new payment targeted at "vulnerable" dairy herds.

The IFA's Kevin Kiersey maintained that dairy farmers could qualify for a coupled payment on the basis that they were farming on heavy soils.

"The regulations don't limit a coupled payment to only vulnerable sectors, but also vulnerable areas," he said.

"Dairy farmers in the west and southwest that struggled to survive all last spring deserve a coupled payment as much as farmers in any other sector."

Mr Kiersey admitted that extending the payment to the dairy sector would also make it more politically palatable.

"The political reality is that there is a significant element of the dairy sector that will oppose the introduction of recoupling payments, since it will represent another cut of up to 10pc on their payments that have already been cut," he said.


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"So if there is going to be coupling it should be done in a fair and practical way. The dairy sector is not going to say 'no way' to coupling, but it must be done in a justifiable manner."

The Waterford dairy leader said that the payment could be based on the number of cows that a farmer had, up to a limit of 50-60 cows. He claimed that the other commodity chairmen in IFA were "well disposed" to the idea of dairy farmers sharing in a new coupled payment.

While the ICMSA continues to oppose coupling in any form, dairy chairman Pat McCormack conceded that he had a 'Plan B' for dairy farmers to gain access to payments if a coupled payment was pushed through.

"If there has to be coupling, then every dairy farmer should get a payment," said Mr McCormack.

However, the ICMSA man wants the payment front-loaded on the first 200,000 litres of milk quota instead of having it paid out on the basis of the region that a farmer is working in.

"You could end up with some very big farmers on dry patches in disadvantaged areas getting payments, while small operators outside of these areas would be left with nothing. This would make a coupled payment meaningless," he claimed.

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