INHFA to meet EU Commission to ask for suckler supports

A delegation from the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) will meet with the European Commission this week to discuss the group’s proposals for financial support for suckler farmers.

The delegation, led by INHFA president Colm O’Donnell, will outline to the commission “the difficulties our farmers have in accessing the limited supports available to the sector” in Ireland.

“The meetings with commission officials will address this, as well as future direct supports for farmers and market access for suckler beef,” O’Donnell commented.

According to O’Donnell, a number of support schemes were “not delivering” for the sucklers, namely the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP); the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) scheme; and the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme.

The INHFA president pointed to the low uptake in these schemes as evidence for this.

O’Donnell claimed that the conditions attached to these schemes “discriminated against smaller herds on fragmented holdings that form a major part of the suckler sector, especially in western seaboard counties”.

“Meeting with the EU Commission will give us the opportunity to explain why these schemes are not working for the majority of suckler farmers, as well as providing the opportunity to explore other support options for these farmers,” he added.

Suckler produced beef is a unique product in terms of quality and the manner in which it is reared. These differences will give it a marketing advantage with a consumer who has become more demanding in terms of animal welfare and our environment.

Concluding his remarks, O’Donnell argued: “These meetings are a starting point in a campaign to deliver real support for our suckler farmers.”