The European Commission wants Irish farmers to reduce the suckler herd as a condition of it paying €50m into the €100m Brexit beef compensation fund.
The IFA has vehemently rejected draft conditions set out by Brussels officials, with president Joe Healy saying: "Minister Creed must reject all conditionality in the draft regulation that does not relate to the actual income losses experienced by beef and suckler farmers."
Healy said: “This Brexit beef fund is for retrospective beef price losses that farmers have already incurred."
"Restructuring is a totally separate matter; it was not mentioned by Commissioner Hogan when the scheme was announced and was not part of the IFA submission on Brexit losses. This aid must not be made conditional on restructuring,” he said.
The draft regulation, seen by the Irish Farmers Journal, states that the money will be given to Ireland on condition that the measures taken by Ireland are aimed at reducing production or restructuring the beef sector.
In addition, it also wants Ireland to implement one of three options:Implement quality schemes in the beef sector or projects aimed at promoting quality and added value .Boost market diversification.Protect and improve farmers’ environmental, climate and economic sustainability.
'Wrong to divert money'
“Every cent of this fund must go directly to farmers and under no circumstances can any of it be diverted elsewhere," said Healy.
"It would be wrong if the Commission and the Minister were now to embark on a convoluted process to take the good out of the scheme by tying it up in knots.
“The message from farmers is clear that this funding must get to the farmers who have incurred the losses and need it most, as soon as possible,” he said.
Ireland has until 31 July 2019 to respond with a proposal on the measure it intends to take, the criteria it will use to pay the money and how it will avoid distorting competition with the measure.
On 15 May, European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan announced that the European Commission would give Irish farmers €50m to compensate for a collapse in beef prices due to Brexit.
The €50m from Europe is to be matched by €50m from the Irish Government.
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has said the money would be paid in the autumn but details of what farmers will be eligible for the scheme and how the money would be calculated have not been released.
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