The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) launched its 10-point plan for the future of suckler beef farming and ensuring food security for EU citizens and consumers yesterday (Thursday, July 11th).
Colm O’Donnell, National President of the INHFA said: “The INHFA 10-point plan provides a pathway that can deliver a future for our suckler farmers that is sustainable at economic and environmental levels.”
“What we need is the support of our public representatives, our Government and Department of Agriculture officials to make this plan a reality,” he added.
It proposes the following points;1. Re-branding of suckler beef – currently following the development of PGI status for this beef.
2. Market for naturally-reared lighter carcase beef – “There is the potential to develop and supply the market with beef from a lighter carcase and a younger animal naturally reared by their mother.”
3. The 4-movement rule – “This rule allows the processors to dictate price and should now be abolished.”
4. ICBF – Beef Data and Genomics Programme – Demanding an external review in relation to the €uro-star ratings are currently applied in the BDGP. Requesting changes to the make-up of the ICBF board.
5. Live exports – Believes action is needed for the Government to clear obstacles relating to recognition and banking arrangements which are “impeding the development” of the Iranian beef market. Supports the recommendation from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture for the establishment of an association by live exporters.
6. Mercosur free-trade agreement – Calling on the Irish Government to veto the deal and MEPs to work inside their various groups in the European Parliament to ensure this deal “does not get through the Parliament.”
7. EU Temporary Exception Adjustment Aid – Calling for all 78,000 specialist beef producers to be included in the measure, including suckler farmers and finishers, but it should not include factory-owned or controlled feedlots
- Targeted suckler beef cow premium: Front-loaded targeted on the first 10 suckler cows, with a degressive payment on the next 10 cows
- Suggests a ceiling cut-off maximum payment per farm and we estimate the cost for the beef cow element to be €35m.
- Payment should be granted as a cumulated top up on the Basic Payment (BPS); applicants should be a participant in the BQAS, GLAS, BDGP, BEEP, OFS – see more here.
8. Beef cow/calf health plan - A front-loaded payment model that will operate as follows to reduce anti-biotic usage and improve animal welfare in the Irish suckler beef sector:
- To reduce viral pneumonia and subsequent antibiotic usage, promotion of outdoor calving;
- Vaccination of calves prior to weaning to address pneumonia;
- Vaccination of the cow before calving in susceptible herds where history of viral pneumonia exists;
- Meal feeding of calves prior to weaning;
- Mineral supplementation of cow or calf;
- Faecal egg sampling for calves to ensure management of worm control;
- Choosing stock bull/AI for better maternal traits and reduction in calving difficulty and docility;
- Dehorning and castration in line with current animal welfare requirements. SMR's;
- Weaning nose and/or adjoining stock-proof paddocks to reduce stress pre-weaning.
Operation of Beef Cow/Calf Health Pilot Scheme
- Payment to be front-loaded on the 1st 10 cows (€200) with a degressive payment on next 15 cows.
- A 20% replacement rate - a payment for sustaining replacement heifers on the farm of origin in the second year;
- Cows would be required to calve within a 14-15-month time frame;
- Annual scheme - a farmer could opt out without penalty.
9. Targeted biodiversity grazing measure – Recommending the inclusion of targeted grazing measure for bovines to avoid biodiversity in the management of high nature value farmland in the upcoming CA – would form part of any new agri-environmental scheme and would pay up to €200 per livestock unit.
10. Rebalancing of CAP payments - Farmers availing of nitrates derogations should qualify for the BISS or any other Pillar 1 payment;
Farmers should be given the choice to either cut back on their production or forgo their CAP payment;
If they decide to forgo their CAP payments, it should go into a central fund for re-distribution. “If we saw all farmers forgo the payment and assume an average payment of €255/ha, then there would be a fund of €113m.”
- Flat rate payment per hectare on all other hectares which would come to €27/ha;
- Could form part of the new Complementary Redistributive Income Support for Sustainability (CRISS) – deliver a payment of €95/ha on the first 10ha to all remaining farmers or almost €1,000 each;
- Could also deliver a coupled payment on the suckler cow of €120/cow or a front-loaded payment of €200/cow on the first 10 cows with a degressive payment on all other cows.