ICSA beef fund meeting debates suckler payments

The topic of making payments to the suckler sector under the €100 million beef fund was hotly discussed at a meeting of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

The meeting, held in the Athlone Springs Hotel this evening, Thursday, June 13, was led by the association’s general secretary Eddie Punch, who outlined the calculations on how much farmers would get in various scenarios.

He explained that, based on the figures for the total beef kill for the period October 2018 to April 2019, each farmer would be paid €92 per head.

However, if the money is paid out only on the prime kill, the pay-out increases to €121/head.

And if feedlot cattle are discounted, the pay-out increases to €131 per head, Punch explained.

However, he stressed that there was a grey area, where feedlots are concerned, highlighting the difference between factory-owned and farmer-owned feedlots.

Punch suggested that a head cap- whereby farmers would not be paid over a certain number of cattle – could be used to prevent an excessive portion of the fund finding its way to feedlots, using a figure of 200 as an example.

Sucklers

Farmers at the meeting were told that the more cohorts of cattle that were included under the fund, the more the pay-out per farmer goes down.

Punch explained that if a €50 payment was made on each suckler cow that calved during the period October 2018 to April 2019, then the pay-out for slaughtered cattle would drop to €72/head.

The ICSA general secretary also referenced the total amount of cattle sold in that period – approximately 1.9 million, arguing that there would be “nothing for slaughtered cattle”, if these animals are included. 

“It’s reasonable to say we can’t do that,” he said.

Punch’s colleague, the ICSA’s beef chairman, stressed that any payment on sold cattle should include a provision whereby the animal is kept on farm for a minimum period of time.

The option was also mooted that animals sired from a dairy breed could be excluded to lower the number of cattle that would eligible for the payment.