The first question is whether the new carbon-neutral suckler scheme will actually deliver new income to farmers, Sinn Féin spokesperson on agriculture Matt Carthy has said.
A new payment for suckler farmers is proposed for the next CAP, as internal documents from the Department of Agriculture reveal.
The scheme would assess farms that meet a carbon-neutral standard and certify them with a new ‘A’ or ‘A1’ rating, depending on their take-up of environmental measures.
Carthy has welcomed reports of the new scheme, but warned that “there are already signs that the Minister is repeating the mistakes that have frustrated farmers in previous schemes".
“Budget 2021 saw the announcement of a €45m COVID beef scheme, but the truth is this was simply a rebrand of existing supports, rather than a new scheme on top of the existing BEEP-S or BDGP.”
The Cavan-Monaghan TD said his other concern is that the existing grass-fed PGI application is not yet over the line.
“Bord Bia appear to have only recently discovered the need to market suckler beef. It is within this context that the Government are thinking of introducing carbon neutral labelling.
“I worry that this is in an indication that the Government have no intention of supporting a suckler PGI. The introduction of an entirely new label to the discussion at this stage is just tinkering around the edges and points to a Department that seems to have absolutely no idea how to market suckler beef.”