‘Absolutely unacceptable’ to put conditions on beef fund – ICMSA

It is “absolutely unacceptable” for the European Commission to attach conditions to the €100 million beef fund, according to one of the country’s leading farm organisations.

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) was responding to the revelation yesterday, Thursday, June 6, that the fund will contain a ‘production reduction’ or ‘restructuring’ clause for the beef and veal sector.

Pat McCormack, the association’s president, labelled such a condition as “unfair”, saying that the “only precondition that should apply” was that a farmer could show he has incurred losses “under Brexit-related headings”.

McCormack argued that farmers “at any stage along the beef chain, whether calf, weanling, store or finished; or whether steer, bull, heifer or cow” should have equal access to the fund, as long as they could demonstrate a loss.

“The fund itself is in danger of becoming a point of disagreement instead of a rallying point, as more conditions are attached and certain categories or classes seek more for themselves at the expense of others,” the ICMSA president claimed.

McCormack also argued that, if conditions are added to the allocation of the fund, then it would, in fact, “compound” losses for some farmers.

If we see the commission try to sneak in questionable policy changes by making access to the aid conditional on adherence to those policy changes, then that alters the whole basis and makes it unfair.

McCormack also reiterated his call for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to publish the official submission that was made to the European Commission when the aid was sought.

Particularly, he said the department should reveal on what basis the aid proposal was made, and how the department envisaged the fund being allocated to farmers.