Beef support scheme: ‘Livestock from feed-lots owned by factories should be ineligible’

“The priority is to see the entirety of the fund – for the recently-announced beef finisher support package – allocated appropriately and fairly.”

That’s according to the Beef Committee chair of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) – Edmund Graham. He made the comment, as he set out the association’s position on the desired distribution of the €50 million package.

He explained: “The €50 million should be divided equally among all eligible animals for which an application has been submitted. The scheme should not operate on the basis of a fixed amount per head, because that would run the risk of unused funds reverting back to the exchequer.”

Continuing, Graham said:

It’s important to note that €50 million is insufficient to cover the losses incurred by beef finishers. The ICSA believes that weanling and store producers, as well as sheep farmers, have also been impacted by Covid-19. However, for the purposes of this fund, strict eligibility criteria should apply.

He explained: “The fund should be allocated on the basis of cattle sold in the period from December 2019 to June 10, 2020. This timeframe would orientate the compensation towards higher-cost winter finishers who would have anticipated a better market had Covid-19 not arisen.”

The ICSA proposes that the following animals should be eligible:
  • Only stock over 12 months-of-age;
  • All bulls, heifers and steers sold to slaughtering plants in Ireland;
  • Suckler cows sold to slaughtering plants in Ireland;
  • Finished animals sold in a livestock mart and slaughtered within 30 days of the mart sale;
  • Finished animals sold for live export to Northern Ireland, Algeria and Libya.

“In the case of animals sold in the mart, the farmer who sold the animal [in the mart] would be eligible for the payment provided the animal was slaughtered within 30 days of the mart sale and provided the farmer who sold the animal [in the mart] owned the animal for at least 70 days prior to the mart sale.

“Similarly, only farmers who owned an animal for at least 70 days would be eligible for payment on animals exported live for slaughter.

The maximum number of animals eligible per farmer should be capped at 200. Livestock owned by meat factories or produced from feed-lots owned by meat factories should be ineligible.

“To ensure that these funds reach those it was intended for, we are also proposing that dairy cows be excluded,” he concluded.