More support needed for suckler and sheep farmers- ICSA

“It’s not fully what we were looking for, but it could have been a hell of a lot worse.” That was the reaction to yesterday’s CAP announcements by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) president Gabriel Gilmartin.

He said there was broad welcome for the CAP decisions within the organisation but more support is needed for suckler and sheep farmers.

According to Gilmartin: “The Minister has called most of the important decisions on Pillar 1 correctly, but we would have preferred 50 per cent rather than 46 per cent co-funding for Pillar 2.”

“We are disappointed that the payment per animal for the Beef Genomics Scheme is still too low at €80, but we are happy with the targeted approach of this scheme.

He added: “This kind of money won’t determine whether a farmer keeps a suckler cow or culls her. After the TLT closure and the current situation with bull beef prices confidence in the suckler sector is very low.”

“The minister will have to look at this area again in the new year, he added.

“We are also disappointed there was little in the announcements of note for sheep farmers,” cited Gilmartin.

The ICSA representative further commented that the introduction of a new agri environment scheme GLAS is good news. However, he said that a higher payment for the GLAS scheme with a greater effort at targeting funds towards lower income cattle and sheep farmers would have been a better option.

Gilmartin commented that: “I can’t see 50,000 farmers getting a €5,000 payment. He noted that the detail of this scheme will be very important and noted that the €2000 top up for particularly challenging actions which deliver with high environmental benefit could be important to farmers in the West.

The outcome for young farmers is very positive, according to Gilmartin. He said: “While there is a lot in the announcement for young farmers, the devil will be in the detail on how these schemes will be implemented,” he explained.

Mr Gilmartin said that in marginal land areas a land drainage scheme is need and he hoped it has been included by the minister.

A key issue over the coming months could be the definition of an ‘Active Farmer’. According to Gilmartin: “This has been on the radar for four years.”

He said: “The focus must be on farmers who are actively farming. There have been issues prior to the latest CAP negotiations with leases being broken due to land owners fearing they would lose CAP money.”

Finally, the ICSA president welcomed the maximum payment of €700 per hectare, in the interests of making more money available for farmers with lower payments.