A farm organisation called for more funding for the beef, suckler and sheep sectors at a meeting with Minister Creed in Dublin earlier this week.
“The situation for drystock farmers remains critical; suckler, beef and sheep farmers are those who are most in need at this time and where additional spending must be focused,” ICSA president, Edmond Phelan, said.
He stressed that while the impact of Brexit on beef has been widely recognised, it must be borne in mind that the sheep sector has also been hit with lower prices.
“This is directly linked to Irish lamb price being undermined by UK lamb imports which are much cheaper due to sterling weakness.”
The farm organisation has called for more support for sheep sector.
“Sheep farmers need a BEAM-type scheme. In addition, the Sheep Welfare Scheme needs to be extended beyond this year with a higher rate of payment.” Phelan added.
ICSA also expressed deep frustration that not all the money available for the BEAM scheme will be delivered.
“The 5% reduction has been a major sticking point and ICSA wanted the full €100 million to be delivered by way of higher payment per qualifying animal.”
“Moreover, beef farmers who have killed cattle after the May 12 deadline for BEAM have been hit with the full Brexit impact but are entitled to nothing.”
ICSA wants to see a payment to reflect cattle killed at unsustainable prices in the period May 13th to December 31st.”
“In addition, the far organisation wishes to see BEEP scheme continued beyond this year to deliver a “more meaningful financial gain” for sucker farmers.
It welcomed funding allocated in Budget 2020 and stated that this offers “scope” for a higher payment per animal.
The farm organisation is of the opinion that a payment to farmers to buy calves from the dairy herd is “totally counter-productive”.
“It will distort the market and undermine the live export trade for dairy calves,” Phelan stressed.
“The reality is that meat factories and retailers cannot expect farmers to buy calves when beef price is at €3.50/kg or less.”
“In any event, it is hard to see how dairy farmers all over Europe would accept aid to the dairy sector given that low-cost Irish dairying is competing aggressively with dairy farming in other EU member states.”
“The reality is that giving a subsidy to farmers to buy calves from the dairy herd is going to increase the price of calves which will only benefit the dairy farmer rather than the beef farmer.”
In addition, the proposal, Phelan outlined, would further undermine suckler beef because there would be, effectively, a slaughter premium for dairy beef which would not apply to suckler beef. “This cannot be justified,” he concluded.