Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has been called on by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) to “clarify” the intentions of the draft suckler scheme.

The organisation was responding to what it deems to potentially be “restrictive conditions” under the new “Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme“, which is proposed under Ireland’s Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plan (CSP), as composed by the Department of Agriculture.

As noted earlier this week, the scheme will prevent a participant increasing their suckler cow numbers over the course of the contract.

Reacting to this, IFA Livestock Committee chairman Brendan Golden said that Minister McConalogue “must clarify his intentions on the draft suckler scheme for 2023-2027”, stating:

“While farmers will understand the concept of a reference year, any suggestion that farmers would suffer a penalty on their payments for existing cows if they increase numbers would be unprecedented and unacceptable.

“IFA has consistently sought a payment of €300 per suckler cow. This scheme must be the vehicle to do that – but we can’t have restrictive conditions.

“The minister and the department need to learn the lessons from the BEAM scheme, which turned what should have been a good news story into a negative,” he stressed.

“The overall problem with the consultation document is that there is no indication of the budget for the schemes.

“The budget for the suckler scheme must be sufficient to deliver €300 per suckler cow. The government should set out their plans for the budget as part of the consultation process.”

Commenting on the ongoing public consultation on the new CAP plan, Golden concluded by stating: “IFA will make a comprehensive submission before the deadline of August 27.”