Department lodges EU submission for multi-million euro fund for beef farmers

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has submitted “a detailed case” to the European Commission for support and exceptional aid – specifically for beef farmers – in response to current market conditions.

According to a Government source, the department has made a submission for a “significant, multi-million euro fund” – however, the source would not be drawn on the exact amount.

It is understood that the submission was made two weeks ago.

The economic argument put forward by the department is believed to be “quite complicated” for a number of reasons.

These include: the fact that a “significant ask” for aid in the context of a no-deal Brexit is still on the table; that the threat of a no-deal Brexit is still very real, albeit the timeline has been deferred; the fact that the UK continues to be a member of the EU and by extension still has a seat on the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers; and in light of current beef price difficulties due to increased kill from the dairy herd and the overhang of last summer’s drought across the continent.

While the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has put forward an analysis stipulating that beef farmers have already taken a €101 million financial hit due to the damage accruing from Brexit, AgriLand understands that the department used “a different methodology” than the IFA to put forward its case to Brussels.

The Government source also rejected claims that the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has “stood idly by” as the challenges facing beef farmers have mounted.

On this, the source referenced in particular the €70 million provision for the agri sector under Budget 2019 to be delivered through the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) scheme, increased Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme funding and other investments.

It is understood that the department is yet to receive a response from the commission on its latest submission.

Beef Protest

The development comes as close to 1,000 members of the IFA protested outside a cabinet meeting at Cork City Hall earlier today, Wednesday, May 1.

The purpose of the protest is to pressurise Government to provide a ‘Brexit support package’ for the beef farmers, after an IFA analysis found that farmers had already incurred losses of over €100 million in beef price cuts due to Brexit uncertainty.

The IFA analysis is based on Department of Agriculture and Bord Bia beef price figures, where the association compared 2018 and 2019 price levels to the pre-Brexit period.