Next year, 2015, will see farmers receive the lowest payment in years as REPS and AEOS end, while payments under the new GLAS scheme will not have begun, according to Fianna Fail spokesperson on Agriculture, Eamon O Cuiv.

Speaking at the National Ploughing Championships, he said that the severely reduced income levels would justify the introduction of a €200/head payment under the Beef Genomics Scheme.

He said that a one-off payment of €200 per head would mean that more farmers would be attracted to join the scheme, which, he said, has had a poor uptake todate. “It’s very concerning that only half of those eligible for the Beef Genomics Scheme have joined it.”

He also said that such a move would also ensure the beef herd is improved. “It would do for the beef herd what was done for the dairy herd.”

O Cuiv also called on the new Irish EU Commissioner Phil Hogan to “put the exploitation of farmers by large supermarkets top of his agenda”.

“Artificial barriers have been put in place by powerful interests, which are having a detrimental impact on farmers all over the country. There is now a need to take on these interests.

“Beef prices are down 20% this year, with farmers now receiving €200-300 less per head on average.” He said the two main issues affecting the beef price is the bull specification issue and the beef labelling problem.”