Ahead of Budget 2021 next week, the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) has highlighted the need for vital farm schemes to be retained and fully funded in 2021.

Schemes such as ANC, GLAS and TAMS are approaching the end of their planned time frames. ICMSA president Pat McCormack said the schemes had an underpinning role in farm income that needed to be recognised and protected.

In addition to existing schemes, McCormack called on Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to make a provision for a dairy calf-to-beef scheme.

“We need better integration of these two sectors and the Government could signal and accelerate that process by introducing this scheme,” he said.

Brexit

McCormack said farmers realised the constraints that Budget 2021 would be delivered in.

However, he stressed that specific measures were needed for the sector to deal with the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and Brexit.

Stability in the agri food sector would give the platform from which to build a recovery right throughout the country, he said.

On Brexit, McCormack warned that even with an optimal deal it would still be a step down on present arrangements.

Farming and agri food would be the sectors most exposed to ‘downgraded’ arrangements.

Threat

McCormack said it was beyond doubt that the sector would need supports that complemented the EU’s €5bn Brexit fund.

He wanted to see the supports go directly to farm families through the introduction of a farm management deposit scheme.

Such a scheme would address wild fluctuations in incomce that were “battering” family farms, he said.

These fluctuations eliminated any prospect of farms being able to plan for their businesses on a predictable year-to-year basis.

The scheme would be “absolutely cost-neutral over time and completely supervised by the Government,” he said.

The ICMSA president also called for the disparity between earned income credit allocated to PAYE workers and self-employed works to be fully closed.