The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding package announced today by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, has been described by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) as insufficient to meet the needs of active farmers.

This morning (Wednesday, October 20) €2.3 billion in national funding was announced under the CAP Strategic Plan (CSP), bringing Pillar II spending to €3.86 billion, and overall spending to €9.8 billion in the 2023-2027 period.

Responding to the farm-scheme funding package, ICSA president, Dermot Kelleher said it “will not be anywhere near enough to deliver key ICSA proposals”.

“The funding announced is not going to do the things that most active farmers want,” he said.

“Although Minister McConalogue has worked hard to get an increased budget for the rural development programme, there just isn’t enough to deliver anywhere near €300/cow, €35/ewe, an early finishing support of €100/head and a decent agri-environment scheme worth up to €15,000,” the ICSA president said.

CAP funding frustration

“I am very frustrated that the Department is not interested in delivering what is required to support the low-income sectors and to have an ambitious enough agri-environmental scheme to reward farmers who go the extra mile for the green agenda.

“On the other hand, the increase in funding for the organic scheme looks like it is unrealistically high.”

The ICSA had called for a 25% top-up on sucklers and sheep for young farmers and the president has called on the Minister to re-examine the ICSA’s proposals given that the funding announced is not going to do the things that most active farmers want.

“We must shift some of the Pillar I money to a coupled suckler and sheep payment and also transfer around €80 million from Pillar II to fund an early finishing incentive (Beef Carbon Efficiency Payment) as set out in the ICSA plan,” he said.

“It is now incumbent on all organisations to have an honest discussion about whether they will support the ICSA plan or else propose another means of delivering the same results.

“It is equally incumbent on the Minister to explain how he proposes to move forward and demonstrate that he is listening to the majority of farmers in Ireland who want better supports for the low-income cattle and sheep sectors.”

“There’s been lots of talk about a €300 suckler cow payment, but only ICSA has the plan to deliver it. It is now time to end the rhetoric and find a way to make this happen.”

“ICSA acknowledges the huge effort made by the Minister on the funding front but we now have to begin the serious business of actually translating that into a working plan that will give hope to the beef, sheep and tillage sectors.

“If Ireland doesn’t return CAP payments to where they originally started, then the clear message is dairying or bust. And that won’t help farmers and it won’t deliver on the climate-change agenda.”