Minister called on to begin consultation on beef package pay-out

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed has been called on by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) to engage in consultation with farm organisations on the means of distributing the €100 million Brexit support package.

This is to ensure the money is with farmers as soon as possible, according to the group.

Commenting on the beef sector support package, revealed by AgriLand last night, ICSA beef chairman Edmund Graham lauded the announcement.

“It is now essential that plans and resources are in place to make sure that the money is delivered to farmers as soon as possible.

“In our view, there is no way we could accept payments being delayed until the autumn,” Graham said.

We would see July 31 as the absolute deadline for all monies to be in farmers’ accounts, having regard to the challenges of deciding the carve-up and making sure that systems are up and running to deliver the payment.

Noting that the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has committed to paying “within weeks”, Graham said: “Consultations with farm organisations must start as soon as possible, and in any event immediately after the EU elections.

“The ICSA had a detailed discussion with senior members of Commissioner Hogan’s cabinet in February in Brussels where ICSA zoned in on the need for a package regardless of whether it was a no-deal Brexit or not,” the chairman said.

Graham noted that a Brexit support package was a “key component” of the ICSA’s submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture’s Future of Beef: Foodwise 2025 meetings in March, which found that farmers were losing up to €4 million a week due to the impacts of Brexit.

In April, the ICSA met Commissioner Hogan in Brussels where we got the message across to the commissioner that Brexit had already happened for beef farmers.

“At that meeting, the commissioner accepted the ICSA argument and committed to doing his very best to get emergency funding agreed by EU Budget Commissioner Oettinger,” Graham said, adding that the organisation had followed this up with a meeting with Minister Creed.

“We acknowledge the efforts of the minister and the commissioner to make this happen.”

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