Calls for €100 / finished animal under €50 million beef scheme

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is calling for a minimum payment of €100 per finished animal as part of the Government’s €50 million scheme for beef finishers that was announced two weeks ago.

Tim Cullinan, the association’s president, also called for payments under the scheme to be made retrospectively from the date of the announcement of the scheme by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, on Friday, June 12 last.

“Beef finishers have incurred significant beef price losses from Covid-19 and other market disturbances this spring, resulting in a severe economic impact on their farm enterprises and family farm incomes,” Cullinan said.

Meanwhile, Brendan Golden, the association’s national livestock chairperson, argued that the terms and conditions of the scheme (which haven’t been revealed yet) must are “farmer friendly”, and that there should be no conditionality to the scheme.

During a press briefing on the day the scheme was announced, Minister Creed indeed said that the scheme is aimed at being “as user-friendly as possible”. However, the precise details of the scheme are yet to be hammered out, pending discussion with stakeholders, including farm organisations.

In its submission on the scheme to the department, the points raised by the IFA include:

  • The scheme should be for cattle finishers, and payment targeted at finishers who incurred the most financial losses;
  • All finished cattle should be covered in the scheme including steers, heifers, young bulls and cows, with the exception of cows with conformation score P and a fat score 1; and calves;
  • There should be no limit on the number of eligible animals per farm which qualify;
  • The full funding of €50 million must be used and paid out;
  • Payment should be made to all eligible applicants at or before the end of August;
  • The payment should apply to all finished cattle sold in the marts, provided those cattle were slaughtered within 30 days of purchase. The payment should go to the farmer who sold the animal;
  • The payment should apply to finished cattle exported live to Northern Ireland and international markets;
  • The scheme should accommodate farm partnerships and not discriminate against individual farmer members in partnerships.

Covid-19 ‘Double Whammy’

Speaking after the scheme was announced, Minister Creed said: “We would estimate since early March there has been a double whammy in the sense of a significant price collapse but also with regards to a drop in the kill numbers.

“There are about 50,000 cattle that normally by now would have been slaughtered, so that overhang on the market, plus the price drop [and] food-service challenge, has led to a very particular impact on beef farmers,” he noted.

The minister added: “We propose obviously to consult with farm organisations, with regard to paying this; our ambition would be to pay it as early as possible. We will require EU approval.”