The IFA livestock committee has strongly rejected many of the proposals in the Department’s CAP Strategic Plan, with the expected implications of the proposed measures to beef farmers emerging as the main concern of the committee.

The condition stipulating that those entering the Beef Carbon Efficiency Programme would be unable to increase herd size for the duration of the scheme, has proved particularly contentious for the committee as it met last Friday.

The committee’s chair Brendan Golden has said that this attempt to cap suckler herd’s size was “underhanded” and that the IFA would refuse to accept the condition.

Golden reiterated the organisation’s commitment to a €300/cow suckler scheme which would not limit the size of suckler herds.

Quality assurance

Another condition of the proposed suckler scheme which proved to be a sticking point for the IFA’s livestock committee was that which would require participating farmers to obtain Bord Bia Quality Assurance (QA) to qualify for payments.

Golden rejected this condition of the scheme, stating that Bord Bia QA was a market requirement which should be rewarded at the market place, rather than the certification having a role in Department schemes.

“It’s not acceptable or appropriate to impose this requirement as a condition of the suckler scheme.

"Farmers are already measuring carbon in existing schemes without the requirement to be part of the Bord Bia QA scheme,” he said.

Pillar II commitment

The livestock chair stated that there is ample room for the Government to deliver co-financing Pillar II funds to beef farmers to allow them to recoup the income many are expecting to be lost through payment cuts.

This co-financing will be essential, Golden argued, in mitigating the impact that convergence and eco scheme losses have on the beef sector, which he identified as an enterprise particularly reliant on supports.

“Eco schemes must be designed to ensure every farmer, at a minimum, is provided with the opportunity to claim back all the monies that is taken from their individual entitlement value,” he said.

Beef finishers

Also criticised in Golden’s remarks was the absence of a beef finisher scheme in the current proposals for the CAP Strategic Plan.

The proposed dairy calf to beef pilot programme should be extended to farmers rearing and finishing cattle to ensure a return of €100/head minimum, he proposed.