The new CAP funding and Strategic Plan have been described as “a sell-out of suckler and beef farmers”.

The Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) livestock chairman Brendan Golden made this point to the minister at last night’s IFA protest in Tullow.

Golden said: “The design of the Strategic Plan and the funding levels allocated to Pillar II targeted schemes compound the impact of convergence, CRISS [Complimentary Redistributive Income Support for Sustainability] and eco-schemes on the suckler and beef farmers most dependent on direct payments for their family income”.

Golden said suckler and beef farmers depend on direct payments for 160% of farm family income.

“These plans are cutting this income by up to 50% through a combination of flattening in convergence, CRISS and eco-schemes.

“The impact of these measures is further compounded by additional compliance costs and reduced efficiencies, all taking from the pockets of the most economically vulnerable farmers,” Golden argued.

He said the minister had the opportunity to directly support these farmers with meaningful, targeted suckler cow and cattle rearing and finishing schemes but has failed to do so.

Continuing, Golden said: “The IFA set out clear demands for a €300 suckler cow payment and €100/animal payment for cattle rearing and finishing farmers to ensure CAP monies directly support Irish beef farmers for producing beef to the highest welfare and environmental standards in the world.

“The minister has ignored these proposals,” according to Golden.

Brendan Golden said the proposed new suckler cow scheme has left 500,000 cows and 30,000 suckler farmers behind based on the funding allocation and number of participants announced this week by the minister.

“This scheme must be extended to provide €300 for every suckler cow in the country that participates in the scheme,” Golden noted.

Beef finishers

Continuing, the IFA livestock chairman said the minister’s plans “do not provide direct support to cattle rearing and finishing farmers despite the fact these are some of the farmers who are losing the most”.

“These farms are integral to the beef production systems in Ireland, and the proposed Strategic Plan must include a scheme that delivers €100/animal payment for farmers who rear and finish cattle.”

Brendan Golden said the minister had told farmers he is prepared to listen, and he has got the message “loud and clear” that €300 for suckler cows and €100/animal for cattle rearing and finishing must be provided in the new CAP.

“Suckler farmers are telling him loud and clear that he needs to go back to the drawing board. It’s time for him to act on their clear message and provide the funding in the Pillar II schemes to deliver on these objectives,” he concluded.