ICSA president Patrick Kent is calling for the end of non-statutory levies which are deducted without the express permission of farmers when they supply livestock to factories and marts.
He has today said that farmers can no longer carry the burden of levies deducted from livestock prices which are failing to deliver a viable income.
The call comes as the farming community continues to be rocked by pay revelations in the country’s largest farming organisation, the IFA, which itself is in receipt of substantial funding from levy deductions.
Kent stressed that the ICSA does not receive ‘a red cent’ of its income from levies deducted from farmers’ cheques.
“Nonetheless, we are delivering strong representation for farmers at National and EU level on a wide range of issues including TTIP, regulation of the food chain, 30-month limits for beef cattle, and fighting against unfair penalties imposed as a result of inspections,” he said.
Kent said that it was also time for a full value for money review of statutory levies.
“Disease levels have dropped significantly yet this is not reflected in the levy. Farmers see little benefit in Bord Bia levies when the differential between Irish and British beef prices is over a euro a kilo on R grade steers.”
Over €14m was collected in Government fees to operators of food businesses including meat plants and farmers last year.
The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney recently set out the details of the fees.
He said EU Regulations, relating to official controls performed to ensure the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules, provides for the recovery of the cost of meat inspection services at approved meat premises.
The Minister said the fees paid are mainly unit fees for animals slaughtered, ranging from €5 for cattle to €0.01 for small poultry.
The also said that it is important to note that these are the minimum amounts chargeable under the Regulation; and that they are not levies on farmers, but rather fees required by EU law to be recovered from meat plants.
The amount recovered in 2014 in respect of these fees was €14.5m.
The An Bord Bia Act, 1994, provides for payment to Bord Bia of a levy per head on slaughtered or exported livestock.
The current levy rate is €1.90 per head for cattle.
Minister Coveney said there are no plans at this point to review the rate of the levy, which funds market research, intelligence and promotion activities and enables the beef sector to draw down co-funding from within the Bord Bia budget.
Income from the cattle levy (including live exports) in 2014 amounted to €5.7m.
Bovine Disease Levies
Bovine disease levies are collected under the Bovine Disease Levies Acts 1979 and 1996 and are used as the industry contribution to compensation payable under disease eradication programmes.
The current rates are €0. 0006 per litre of milk processed and €1.27 for each animal slaughtered or exported.
Again, the Minister said there are no plans at this point to review the rate of the levy.
The total collected in 2014 was €6.6m, including €3.1m at meat plants/abattoirs and for live exports.