Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) president Colm O’Donnell says its members require the rebranding of naturally reared suckler beef to recognise the unique farming system that prioritises high animal welfare over quantity.
The comments came during the first meeting of the association with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConologue and Minister of State Pippa Hackett.
The INHFA stressed the need for a marketing campaign to highlight and develop the suckler beef brand and for €4m to be made available to Bord Bia to develop the campaign.
In acknowledging how the development of a new brand and market will take time, the INHFA president highlighted the need for direct support to be available for the sector.
O’Donnell said: “In our budget proposals, we have sought the delivery of a suckler cow scheme similar to BEEP 2 that pays €200 on the first 10 cows, with a digressive payment on the remainder.
“The budget required will be €160m, which is an increase of €73m on this year’s supports, which are currently delivered through BEEP at €35m and BDGP at €52m.”
The INHFA delegation told the ministers of the need for a rollover of the Sheep Welfare Scheme, with an increased budget capable of paying €20 on every ewe.
O’Donnell continued: “The scheme has been very popular with farmers and has provided much-needed support when lamb prices didn’t match their expectation or needs.”
The delegation also called on the State for an intervention model and feasibility study to deal with the backlog of wool, ensuring that farmers have market options and potential to develop a woollen industry in Ireland.
“Our budget proposals and the need for a feasibility study was well received by both ministers and Department staff and we anticipate further engagement on it.
“The points made by the INHFA delegation were well received by the ministers who understand the vital role of these sectors both inside and outside agriculture,” he said.