The current range of supports available to suckler farmers, together with ensuring market access to as many markets as possible, are appropriate for the continued development of the sector, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.
He made the comments in response to a recent parliamentary question from Fine Gael TD Tony McLoughlin.
The representative for the Sligo-Leitrim constituency asked the minister whether he had any plans to introduce a suckler cow scheme in order to boost suckler farmers’ incomes.
Minister Creed explained that an examination of appropriate measures to support all agri-food sectors – including the suckler sector – is underway in his department in preparation for the next round of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
Speaking on the matter, he said: “I am strongly of the view that the current range of supports available to suckler farmers – together with ensuring market access to as many markets as possible, both for live animals and beef exports – are appropriate supports for the continued development of the sector.
National Farm Survey data suggests that suckler farmers receive support equivalent to approximately €500 per suckler cow on average.
“I will continue to argue for as strong a CAP budget as possible, post-2020. In particular, I am committed to ensuring that suckler farmers continue to receive strong support in the next CAP.
“My view is that such payments should support and encourage suckler farmers to make the best decisions possible to improve the profitability, and the economic and environmental efficiency, of their farming system,” he said.
The minister noted that the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) is the main support specifically targeted for the suckler sector, which provides Irish beef farmers with some €300 million in funding over the current Rural Development Programme (RDP) period.