‘Farmers turning on each other is disappointing’ – ICMSA

Farmers are “turning on each other” over the €100 million BEAM fund and other issues, according to the president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

Pat McCormack expressed his surprise at what he called “the enthusiasm with which some farmers have been turning on other farmers, and dismissing their legitimate claims to consideration”.

He was referring specifically to the BEAM scheme, but claimed that this was part of a broader trend.

I genuinely feel that some contributors to the debate on the division of the fund seem more intent on dividing farmers into sub-groups and ‘us and them’ categories than they are on defending the position of all farmers.

McCormack said he “was not naive” about the issues farmers face, but argued that it was “disappointing and hugely counter-productive to see farmers so eager to divide into sub-categories and exclude other farmers”.

He commented: “I’m not sure that we have the luxury of turning on each other the way that unfortunately seems to be happening right now and I mean specifically in relation to the Brexit Beef Fund.”

He reiterated his association’s call for all farmers who have a beef enterprise to be eligible for compensation under BEAM, and no farmers producing beef should be excluded.

We have more than enough non-farmers and increasingly powerful lobbying groups who are determined to divide farmers up so that they can ‘pick us off’ individually without helping by dividing up ourselves.

“I really urge everyone to respect the fact that we’re all farmers and now, more than ever, we have to remember that we always have more in common than separates us,” McCormack concluded.

The details of the BEAM scheme were announced last week, with dairy herds being deemed ineligible for compensation.

That decision has proven to be controversial, with several farmer groups contributing their thoughts on it.

Tom Phelan, the national dairy chairperson with the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) argued yesterday, Wednesday, July 17, that excluding dairy farmers from the scheme was “discriminatory”.

However, Edmond Phelan, the newly elected president of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), also speaking yesterday, argued that the fund should be for farmers whose “primary enterprise” is dependent on the beef trade.