Exclusion of exported cattle from beef payment ‘must be revisited’

The decision to exclude exported cattle from the newly-announced Beef Finishers Payment has been criticised by one farm organisation, which said it “was a mistake and must be revisited”.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), which gave a “guarded welcome” to the payment when details were announced, came out late last week to highlight the issue of exported cattle being excluded from the payment.

“Farmers who supplied cattle to fill live export contracts on a slaughter certificate are being unfairly discriminated against by this decision,” said Edmund Graham, the association’s beef chairperson.

They are winter finishers who fed cattle and had to contend with the same market difficulties as were faced by others due to Covid-19. Moreover, it is the second time that exports of live cattle have been left out of compensation packages, having also been denied access to BEAM [Beef Exceptional Aid Measure] support.

“There needs to be parity, whether cattle go to the factory or go on a boat. [We] are calling on Minister [for Agriculture, Food and the Marine] Dara Calleary to reconsider the department’s position on this and to allow farmers who exported cattle for slaughter to avail of the scheme,” Graham added.

He continued: “The department has always been vocal about its support for the live export trade and this would be one way of showing that support in a meaningful way.”

Details of payment

The details of the Beef Finishers Payment were announced last Wednesday, August 5.

The €50 million exchequer-funded scheme is intended to “provide income support for farmers with beef finishing enterprises, who have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

An estimated 42,000 farmers will be eligible to apply.

This projection is based on the number of cattle sent for slaughter in the period from Saturday, February 1, to Friday, June 12, 2020 – subject to a limit of 100 animals per herd.

Based on estimates of eligible animals, a rate in the region of €100 per animal will be payable.