Disappointment in the budget has been expressed by the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association’s (INHFA) president Colm O'Donnell. He said the budget “fails to deliver” for the smaller suckler farmer and the hill sheep sector. The INHFA president outlined that the Government committed to supporting the suckler farmers but feels that this budget did not reflect that.

“While the organisation has no problem with the decision to continue with the BEEP scheme, there is the need to recognise that many small-scale suckler farmers have not got into this scheme as they see no value in it.”

Missed opportunity

A welfare-based scheme proposed in the INHFA beef cow/calf health plan that pays €200 on the first 10 cows has proved popular with farmers, “which is why we are bitterly disappointed that the Minister didn't at least move some way on this option”, said O’Donnell.

He feels that there was an opportunity to use some of the unspent funds in the sheep welfare scheme and make a top-up payment.

“Sadly this opportunity has once again been missed as too was our proposal to pay for the cost of EID tagging from these unspent funds."

Immediate support is needed not a vague promise of support

O’Donnell expressed reservations in relation to the emergency fund available in the event of a no-deal Brexit and is doubtful that it will be enough. As Brexit is already impacting the price farmers are getting at the factory gates, he said: “Immediate support is needed, not a vague promise of support in the future, which for some will be too late.”

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