‘Production reduction’ suckler measure mooted

Future funding allocations for the suckler sector may not revitalise suckler beef production but, in fact, do the opposite, a junior minister has suggested.

Speaking on RTE’s ‘The Late Debate‘ show recently, the Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan, hinted that suckler herd reduction measures will be linked to the roll-out of future funding.

When pushed on the reduction of the national herd and asked if that is something Fine Gael is willing to do, Phelan responded as follows:

[With regard to] the recent announcement in relation to the beef funding, in advance of the election, part of it will centre on reducing the [livestock] numbers.

Continuing, he said: “Farmers in Ireland have shown over the years – not least through some of the rural environmental protection schemes – that when they are incentivised, and when there is a clear Government policy, they will react.”

Phelan’s remarks follow recent comments from the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, who stressed that he is “very anxious” that the imminent €100 million beef aid package goes “directly to farmers”.

Phelan outlined the importance of agriculture in rural Ireland, not just to farming families, but also to the local industry.

He said: “Agriculture does not just employ the people who are farmers; there are huge agri-food industries as well.”

While it is not clear if a mooted ‘production reduction’ clause will impact on the roll-out of the €100 million support funding, Government sources refused to definitively rule this out when questioned by AgriLand.