The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has met with Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue today (Thursday, May 5) to call for further support for beef and sheep farmers amid the “spiraling” input costs.

A delegation from the farm organisation told the minister and a team of his officials that farmers in these sectors “are being crucified” due to costs.

“The minister must act now to deliver more supports from exchequer funds and target them directly at the vulnerable beef, suckler and sheep sectors,” said Dermot Kelleher, the ICSA president.

Speaking after the meeting, Kelleher argued that targeted supports “are now necessary to…mitigate the crippling burden of inflation on these sectors”.

The ICSA team called for a €2,000 fertiliser voucher for farmers.

They welcomed the silage support scheme announced this week, but argued that it “simply does not go far enough“.

“[We] again recommended that a voucher be made available to farmers who show their farming enterprises required the purchase of fertiliser in 2021. Vouchers should be payable at a rate of 50% of the total fertiliser bill for 2021, to a maximum of €2,000,” Kelleher said.

Apart from Kelleher, the ICSA delegation included beef chairperson Edmund Graham; suckler chairperson Jimmy Cosgrave; sheep chairperson Sean McNamara; rural development chairperson Tim Farrell; and the organisation’s general secretary Eddie Punch.

Suckler chair Cosgrave outlined a proposal for an exchequer-funded suckler welfare scheme that could deliver €80-€100/cow which, when combined with Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments, could deliver a €250/head total payment.

Rural development chair Farrell told the minister that the government “will have to deliver separate funding for farmers affected by designations”.

“The CAP cannot be expected to do everything. The EU must be told that the level of ambition in the [European Commission’s] Biodiversity Strategy must be matched by equally ambitious extra funding outside of the CAP,” Farrell argued.