The IFA has urged the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to clarify his position on a condition of the Government’s proposed suckler scheme which would disallow farmers enrolled in the scheme from increasing their herd size over its duration.
The condition was included in the Carbon Efficiency Programme proposed by the Government to come into effect in January 2023, as part of Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan.
The chair of the IFA livestock committee, Brendan Golden, has called the herd size restriction clause - which was confirmed by the Department of Agriculture on Friday morning – “unacceptable” to farmers.
“While farmers will understand the concept of a reference year, any suggestion that farmers would suffer a penalty on their payments for existing cows if they increase numbers would be unprecedented and unacceptable,” Golden stated.
The livestock chair urged Minister McConalogue to push his colleagues to remove the condition from the Carbon Efficiency Programme and use the scheme to deliver the €300/cow payment lobbied for by the IFA to suckler farmers.
“IFA has consistently sought a payment of €300 per suckler cow. This scheme must be the vehicle to do that, but we can’t have restrictive conditions,” he said.
Golden added that he believed the minister should bear the end result of the BEAM scheme in mind when formulating future suckler payments.
The scheme, along with other Government proposals for the CAP Strategic Plan, are currently in the public consultation stage.
Farmers interested in airing their views on the proposals can attend one of three town hall-style webinars where Minister McConalogue intends on hearing suggestions and answering questions before his Department goes back to the drawing board on the CAP Strategic Plan.
Alternatively, written submissions can be made to the Department here or by post.
“The overall problem with the consultation document is that there is no indication of the budget for the schemes. The budget for the suckler scheme must be sufficient to deliver €300 per suckler cow. The Government should set out their plans for the budget as part of the consultation process,” Golden concluded.
Golden also outlined the IFA’s intention to submit a comprehensive revision of the scheme terms to the Department before the public consultation process ends.