The Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) has branded the exclusion of dairy farmers from the silage support scheme as “revealing and disgraceful”.

President of the ICMSA Pat McCormack has expressed disappointment at the government’s decision to extend the proposed fodder scheme to beef and sheep farmers only.

McCormack said the decision will see “billionaire individuals with a hobby interest in farming” receive a payment of up to €1,000 from the state to help with fodder bills. Meanwhile, full-time dairy farmers that are managing proportionate costs will get nothing.

He also described the decision as “revealing” and said it conclusively demonstrates animosity towards the dairy sector that is held by certain elements in government.

The ICMSA president called out the decision as a systematic undermining of Ireland’s most economically successful agri-food sector. He also said it represents a deliberate abandonment of impartiality amongst certain cohorts within government, adding that “everyone knows who they are”.

“To a degree, this ridiculous decision at least ends that pretence that ‘we’re in this together’.

“The message this decision sends is if you have off-farm income of millions and passing interest in some niche aspect of farming; here’s a government cheque towards your fodder bill.  But a fulltime dairy farmer? You get nothing,” he said.

He added that he believes the government has now made a strategic error by basing their decisions on a survey and revealing their animosity towards the sector.

Referring to the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme, which was introduced in 2019, McCormack said that dairy farmers have been left out of support measures repeatedly. He said:

“Dairy farmers were previously excluded from the BEAM scheme and Minister McConalogue rightly called this out in opposition, but he has done the exact same thing now.

“We know that there must be many TDs who are uncomfortable at such a blatant and ridiculous anti-dairying display, and we trust that those TDs will make their voices and opinions known.”

The ICMSA is now calling on rural TDs to stand up to this alleged discrimination towards those dairying, and insist that the Irish government supports all farming families, including those in the dairy sector.

Silage support scheme

The proposed scheme, which received strong support when brought to Cabinet yesterday (May 3), would reward farmers with a payment of €100/ha for all silage cut up to a maximum of 10ha.

This would result in farmers being eligible to receive up to €1,000 each. The budget for the support scheme has yet to be finalised, however it is expected that it could amount to €55 million at a cost to the exchequer.