The reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a major talking point in farming circles at the moment.
It will have a significant impact on many farms but, arguably, its effect will be most felt by suckler and beef farmers whose farming systems would traditionally be heavily reliant on this payment.
Agriland recently caught up with Co. Cavan-based suckler/beef farmer and vice-chairman of the Cavan Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA) branch, Maurice Brady, to get his views on how the CAP reform is affecting suckler/beef farmers.
“It’s not really CAP reform, it’s CAP cuts,” explained Maurice. “I would have started at about €470/80/ per hectare and it looks like by the end of this so-called reform, I’ll be at €266/ha.
“So it’s €200/ha I’m down for the last number of years and there doesn’t seem to be any other way of backing up that income.”
Commenting on how reduced payments in eco-schemes have affected his income, Maurice said: “I was in REPS as well and I used to get €7,500/year. The most I can get in GLAS on the same acreage now is €4,500 – so that’s another cut of €3,000/year.
He reiterated: “There has been an awful lot of cuts made to beef farmers over the past number of years and there doesn’t seem to be anything to replace it, only that prices have bounced a bit this year.
“If prices were the same this year as they were last year, you’d have to be taking a good long look at the whole thing because you could not sustain them cuts.
“Due to convergence, it looks like everyone is heading for a €266/ha payment.
“It’s a long way back from where I was and I don’t think it’s fair because if you owned the side of a mountain, you’d be far better off – and gaining money.
“I still think the people that are doing the farming, and have the stock, and are calving the cows, should be better looked after.”
Continuing, Maurice noted: “The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue is being pushed for this €300/suckler-cow subsidy, and I think he will have to come up with that because he was very keen on it when he was in opposition.”
He added that the minister had indicated “a potential return of a REPS-type scheme and I think he will have to come up with that – otherwise there will have been nothing, only cuts for beef farmers.”