The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has said that Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue is tone deaf to the needs of suckler farmers.
Suckler farmers are demanding more significant changes to the National Beef Welfare Scheme (NBWS) than extensions to the closing date announced by the Minister, IFA livestock chair Brendan Golden said.
He said suckler farmers have reacted furiously to the inclusion of IBR testing in the scheme and the levels of funding available to farmers.
“The Minister and his officials chose to ignore the views of farmers, which [the] IFA highlighted to him well in advance of the design of this replacement to the BEEP-S and he has now got his answer with the levels of uptake,” he said.
Golden said such is the dependency of suckler farmers on direct supports some have had no choice but to join the scheme despite the low levels of funding. They also have to avoid the risks in the sales of their animals afterwards.
He said the Minister committed €28m in funding to replace a Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme - Sucklers (BEEP-S) scheme that had a budget of €40m last year and has further reduced the levels of support suckler farmers will receive by the inclusion of a measure that will divert upwards of €6m to service providers such as laboratories and vets for IBR testing.
Golden said suckler farmers have had enough empty promises from the Minister and supporting words that are not matched by his actions.
"In real terms, supports for suckler farmers have been reduced over 30% in the new CAP and the Minister must as a matter of urgency address this unacceptable situation," he said.
He said the NBWS requirements must be amended to include practical, easy-to-implement measures that add value for suckler farmers with minimal leakage and the funding levels must be increased to deliver €300/cow for all suckler cows.