The ICSA has reiterated its call to create a coupled suckler payment in Pillar 1 as the “only way” to deliver €300/ suckler cow.
The farm group met with the DAFM earlier this week to seek “major” changes to its suckler scheme plans.
Its president, Dermot Kelleher, led a delegation, which included suckler chair, Ger O’Brien, to argue for amendments.
The farm leader is “increasingly concerned” that plans for sucklers under the DAFM’s CAP Strategic Plan are “going in the wrong direction”.
Coupled suckler payment
In a statement, Kelleher outlined his concerns surrounding the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme.
“The first problem is that the department proposals do not address the legitimate concerns suckler farmers had with the outgoing BDGP scheme.”
“There is complete tunnel vision in terms of breeding strategy and targets. ICSA objects very strongly to the idea that farmers will have to have 75% of females rated 4 or 5 stars on the maternal index by the end of the scheme.”
The farm group proposes that there should be “a more holistic” approach to breeding, recognising that many suckler farmers are “doing a great job breeding and utilising ICBF data”.
“But their focus also includes terminal traits such as conformation. A target that is excessively focused on maternal traits is not the way forward. Furthermore, in any event, it will be impossible to achieve for all scheme entrants.”
Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme
Kelleher also insisted that Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme membership could not be a condition of the suckler scheme.
“This is a red-line issue for ICSA. We made it very clear that farmers would not accept this. If everyone is coerced into BQAS, then nobody will benefit from it.”
He said farmers must have the freedom to choose and let the marketplace provide the incentives for being in BQAS.
ICSA said it is also concerned for the BEEP scheme’s future. “They are taking the weighing measure out of BEEP.”
“This will be devastating for the farmers who preferred not to participate in BDGP. The minister must work with us and commit to delivering a BEEP scheme that is simple and beneficial to suckler farmers.”
Concluding, he said: “The fact remains, however, that even if ICSA succeeds in improving the suckler scheme, there is still no pathway to €300/cow.