The Irish Cattle and Sheep Association ICSA) is set to join the meat and livestock board of An Bord Bia, the Minister for Agriculture has said.

Speaking at its AGM, Minister Charlie McConalogue said that the ICSA had proven itself in being a constructive partner and that the ICSA’s voice would be valid on the board.

He confirmed that he has requested a change to the BEAM scheme’s reference period, as revealed in the Irish Farmers Journal.

“As it stands, applicants of the scheme have until 30 June to reach their reduction target and I have put forward a strong case to the [European] Commission seeking a new 12-month reference period of 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021 for those farmers who require an extension,” he explained.

“I thank the ICSA for the positive engagement in this regard. A positive outcome from the Commission is not guaranteed, but I feel I have put forward a strong case to protect those farmers who are not on course to reach their target.”

Pilot agri environmental scheme

He asked ICSA members to take part in the consultation process on the pilot agri environmental scheme, set to open later this year.

“I really want to hear from you in the types of measures you’d like to see in that results-based scheme. This pilot scheme is crucial, as results-based initiatives will be central to the next CAP,” he told the farmers at the virtual AGM.

Schemes and funding

Outlining the €102m funding available for livestock farming, the Minister detailed schemes including €40m for the extension of the Beef Data and Genomics Programme and €40m for the Beef Sector Efficiency Pilot, based on the BEEP-S Scheme, as well as €5m for a new calf weighing measure to support beef farmers rearing dairy calves.

“I am also providing €17m for the extension of the Sheep Welfare Scheme. I have listened to farmers and I am happy to have updated the reference year for year five of the scheme to 2017,” he said.

“This is to reflect the increased numbers that year and is an advantageous reference year for most farmers.

“2017 was the best possible year for farmers, as it reflected the higher volume of ewes on the sheep census, while meeting the requirements of the scheme to have a reference year in the past."

Suckler beef

The Minister said the ICSA would play a key role in the committee, which will oversee the €6m marketing for Irish suckler beef abroad.

“This package of supports for the livestock sector, together with the provision of more than €450m for schemes like GLAS and ANCs, will support livestock farmers to improve the economic and environmental performance of their herds, while providing valuable income support for the sector,” said Minister McConalogue.