‘Disturbing aspects’ in beef fund draft act – ‘Ming’ Flanagan

The ‘draft implementing act’ for the EU’s half of the €100 million beef fund is “targeting” the national suckler herd, according to MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan.

Flanagan, speaking after seeing that document, said that there were “many disturbing aspects” to the regulation in its current form.

“There is a carefully orchestrated attempt, at both national and EU level, to undermine the very rationale of maintaining the suckler herd,” he claimed.

Farmers must be aware of the hidden agenda at play here and educate themselves on these critical issues.

Flanagan further suggested that the aim of reducing the suckler herd was to facilitate the expansion of the dairy sector – which, he said, would have “unsaid negatives”.

It was these negative aspects of dairy expansion, particularly the environmental impact, that the “cabal driving this agenda” wanted to offset by “the removal of the suckler herd”.

“Firstly, the environmental consequences in the quest for ‘white gold’ are considerable, with many dairy farmers requiring a derogation from the nitrates directive to operate. These numbers are set to rise in the coming years,” said Flanagan.

While their GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions may be masked in national accounting, taken as a separate cohort this is not a sustainable model of farming.

“The warped thinking is that if the suckler herd could be reduced, then not only would this allow for further dairy expansion, but former suckler farmers could be enticed in. We already see the soft sell from Teagasc, to rear the by-product of the dairy herd, a vastly inferior product to what they are already doing,” he also claimed.

‘Ming’ also referenced the issue of calf welfare, arguing that the treatment of bobby calves was something that “cannot be swept under the carpet forever”.

EU level

According to Flanagan, the “agenda” behind these regulations for Europe was the protection of the internal markets of a handful of EU countries, particularly those whose farmers may be competing with Irish beef if we can’t send our produce to Britain in the event of a “hard” Brexit.

“A single market with free movement of goods and services may be okay in theory, but no thank you, when German, French or Belgian farmers might be affected. A reduction in Irish beef output is a neater solution in the eyes of our EU partners,” he claimed.

Flanagan concluded his remarks by saying that MEPs will be challenging the European Commission on these aspects of the regulation.

“Irish suckler farmers produce a premium product in a highly sustainable manner, and will not be sacrificial lambs in order so others can abdicate their own responsibilities,” he said.