Beef scheme: ‘We’d like to typically see €60-80/head over a 6-month period’

“The beef support scheme should more or less give something to most if not all farmers that are finishing cattle.”

That’s according to the general secretary of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) Eddie Punch, who was commenting on the recently-announced €50 million beef support scheme.

When asked about the ‘reference period’ that the scheme will cover, he said that it should cover the past only; to cover the present would “distort current markets”.

When asked why, he explained: “There are farmers that have cattle now that they probably would not have had before, at this time, and they are only selling them now due to the bad markets – seen by the impact of Covid-19.”

Turning his thoughts to proposals (made by the ICSA) regarding the length of the reference period, Punch said:

We want it to cover the period of December-June. This would target high-cost winter-finishing, which already saw impacts from Covid-19 back in January. Markets in China and Europe were already showing signs of the effects of Covid-19 long before we went into lock-down.

“The Department of Agriculture is with us in our thinking that the reference period should be long.”

Proposal of price per head

Talking about the proposed price-per-head (for affected cattle) Punch said that the ICSA had sent in a proposal on this that was dependent on the time-frame of the reference period.

He explained: “We would like to see a payment of €60-€80/head over a six-month period.

The department has proposed a maximum number of 100 eligible animals [per applicant]. We actually proposed a maximum of 200.

He also said that he would like to see inclusion for those who sent out live (finishing) exports to Northern Ireland, Libya and Algeria, as well as those who sent finished cattle to marts and then which were slaughtered within 30 days.

However, he believes that feed-lots owned by factories and (nitrates) derogation farmers “will be out”.