Beef sector payments have been sought by the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) from Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue in a letter sent to him by the association’s president Tim Cullinan and livestock chair Brendan Golden.

The IFA stated that supports for the suckler and beef sector are needed to help farmers in this low-income sector to absorb the impact of input price rises.

“Suckler and beef farmers do not have the financial capacity to absorb the extent of the increases on input prices,” said Cullinan.

“There is an urgent need for immediate direct financial supports for these farmers to offset the costs,” he said.

Direct aid

This direct aid, which it suggested should be set at €300 per suckler cow and a minimum of €100 per finishing animal, could be funded through the €18m clawed back from the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) in addition to monies from the crisis reserve fund.

The crisis reserve fund can be co-financed to the tune of 200% of the €16m delivered by the European Commission to take the total possible funding allocation up to €48m.

“These supports must be paid directly to farmers based on their level of production,” the IFA said in its submission.

Other measures

In its letter, the IFA also called for the Department of Agriculture to compile an inventory of the projected fodder supplies that will be available into the winter, as well as assessing the current fuel and fertiliser stocks on hand.

An easing of restrictions on land bound by Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) terms was also sought in the submission.

These included the removal of fertiliser restrictions on the Low-Input Permanent Pastures (LIPP) and Traditional Hay Meadows options of the scheme.

It was suggested that farmers be allowed to cut hay or silage on LIPP also.

CAP and Brexit

The IFA said that Brexit leaves beef farmers exposed to uncertainty and that investment in the sector should continue under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve fund.

It also claimed that CAP reform would negatively impact the farm payments of “the most productive beef farmers”.

“The CAP, Green Deal and Farm to Fork have further undermined the ability of Irish and EU farmers to produce food. The damage done to productive farmers in these flawed policies must be reversed,” the letter said.