Beef Plan: ‘Production reduction’ measures ‘hugely frustrating’

The latest revelations that a “production reduction” measure must be taken to avail of the €100 million Brexit beef package have been described as “hugely frustrating” by the Beef Plan Movement.

The suggestion that the reduction would come from the suckler herd as opposed to beef produced from the dairy herd was highlighted as “yet another challenging development to be dealt with” by suckler farmers, according to the organisation in a statement.

The movement is seeking the documents detailing the European Commission requirements tied in to the €50 million offered, also looking to see who from the commission proposed and approved the requirements in question.

The organisation statement noted that the Government “position seems to have changed considerably in the very short period of time since just prior to the European and local elections”.

The Beef Plan Movement noted the article which broke the news, highlighting that the Department of Agriculture’s argument to the commission, seeking exceptional aid for the beef sector, included factors such as increased kill from the dairy herd and the overhang of last summer’s drought across the continent.

If they previously considered the beef price issue to be associated with the increased kill from the dairy herd then why are they focusing on the suckler herd reduction?

The movement also questioned why the department’s submission has not been made available for review, stating that the “drip-feed of mixed messaging associated with this fund is not helping our members to plan their businesses”.

The group noted that breeding decisions for 2020 are well underway at present and members are questioning if cows should be put back in calf.

The movement alleged that it “looks as though there continues to be no strategy – or at least none that the department is prepared to share in its entirety”.

It also described the news that the “Department of Agriculture is going to have to come up with the vast majority” of the €50 million to be raised by the Irish Government as “a very disappointing development”, adding that it will result in a “robbing Peter to pay Paul” scenario within the department.

Commenting that much focus to date has been on the terms and conditions associated with the package, the movement again highlighted the “fundamental question”:

“Who benefited from the losses endured by farmers that resulted in the approval of this fund?

“If this is not established and addressed, we will find ourselves back in the same position again,” the group stated.

The movement’s statement concluded by calling on Minister Creed to confirm whether “processors, retailers or consumers benefited at the expense of Irish beef producers”.