IN FOCUS: Co Mayo suckler producer Stanley Jackson has welcomed the extra money that will be available for the beef breeding sector, courtesy of Budget 2014.

“Yes it’s good news,” he told AgriLand. “ But in reality, it’s only a drop in the ocean in terms of what’s required to make my business viable.

“The Past 12 months have been truly horrendous. I ran out of fodder in March and the stress of trying to buy in extra silage, simply to keep the cattle alive until the middle of May was incredible. Extra meal was also required, so as to ensure that the cows had enough milk for their calves.”

He continued: “It’s also important for the government to agree a headage payment on sucklers when it comes to settling the detail of the new Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) support measures.

“The reality is that my costs are going up all of the time. I do not get enough from the market when it comes to selling stock in the spring or the autumn. So the only incentive for me to keep the cows is the Single Farm Payment (SFP) and the other farm support measures that are available.”

Similar to many other farmers n the west of Ireland, Jackson feels strongly that agriculture has taken more than its fair share of Budget cuts over the last number of years.

“Everyone keeps telling me that there is a bright future in farming,” he commented. “I hope they are right. But, in truth, I have yet to see any evidence of it in terms of what’s happening within my business.”

Meanwhile Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon O Cuív TD, said over €70m will be taken from Irish farmers in 2014 following yesterday’s Budget.

Deputy Ó Cuív said the €32m cut in the CAP budget for Ireland along with today’s announcement of a €37m cut in the suckler cow and REPS schemes means €70m will be taken from farmers in 2014.

“Today’s Budget announcement confirms there will be major cuts in direct payments for farmers next year,” said Deputy Ó Cuív. “Between cuts negotiated by the Taoiseach to the SFP and cuts in the budget to funding for REPs, next year will see €70m taken from farmers. The only good news for farmers in the Budget is the new genomics scheme for suckler cows, which will benefit farmers with suckler herds at a cost of €23m. 

“I am now calling on the minister to ensure that through the advisor service and Teagasc that assistance is given to as wide a group of farmers as possible so they can avail of his new scheme. With more than one million suckler cows in the country, it is absolutely vital that as many of the farmers as possible that have suckler cows can participate in this scheme.

“Many farmers who have not had any dealing with genomics before may need significant assistance to become used to the new scheme. With 80,000 suckler farmers in the country, the payment for this new scheme will be the equivalent to an average payment of €287 per farmers per annum.”

Image suckler herd/Photo O’Gorman Photography