Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers' Association (ICSA) president Dermot Kelleher has urged Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to do more for low-income cattle, sheep and tillage farmers as the next CAP is designed.

President Kelleher pressed the Minister to avail of the full 13% coupled payment option to deliver variable, coupled premiums that would deliver an extra payment on suckler cows and ewes.

“On current cow numbers, it would add €120/cow for the first 40 cows and we believe that the BDGP and BEEP payment value can also be increased to deliver an overall total of €300 on the first 40 cows and €180 thereafter.

“This eliminates the need for quotas or capping of the suckler herd,” Kelleher said.

Coupled option

“Similarly, the coupled option could also deliver €16/ewe on the first 250 ewes and we are seeking a total payment of €35/ewe on the first 250 ewes (adding in the Sheep Welfare Scheme) and €19/ewe thereafter, again with no quotas or capping,” he added.

The ICSA has said these variable coupled payments front-loaded on the first 40 cows and 250 ewes will eliminate the need for the CRISS component to be applied when it comes to Ireland.

Beef finishers

For beef finishers, the ICSA is seeking a beef carbon efficiency payment worth up to €100/head for feeding animals between 12 and 24 months, up to €150 head.

It will involve weighing, dung samples and a target to finish cattle at under 28 months for steers, under 26 months for heifers and under 22 months for young bulls, with higher payments the younger they are finished.

This scheme would be aimed at farmers who undertake a programme designed to deliver more efficient, earlier slaughter of steers, heifers and bulls.

Young farmers and early retirement

The ICSA has proposed a 25% young farmer top-up for suckler cows to a maximum of 40 cows (about €30 plus €120), for up to five years under the variable suckler cow payment.

A 25% top-up for ewes to a maximum 250 ewes (about €4 plus €16 for up to five years); a 25% top-up per hectare for up to five years and access to TAMS grants at a rate of 60%.

In tandem with this will be an early retirement scheme for suckler farmers aged 55 and over amounting to €100/cow for five years to facilitate those young farmers who wish to expand their suckler herds.

The ICSA has made it clear to the Minister and his officials that membership of a Bord Bia quality assurance scheme must not be linked to CAP payments.

“We are also clear that payments under Pillar I should be capped at €66,000, with no loopholes for employed staff,” said Kelleher.

The ICSA believes this plan is possible: “This is achievable through maximising the use of every possible avenue within the CAP framework,” he insisted.