The IFA has outlined how it believes the €50m scheme for beef finishers should be distributed.
The farm lobby group’s submission is proposing a minimum of €100 per finished animal from the date of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s announcement.
“Beef finishers have incurred significant beef price losses from COVID-19 and other market disturbances this spring, resulting in severe economic impact on their farm enterprises and family farm income,” IFA, president, Tim Cullinan said.
In a submission to the Department of Agriculture last week, the IFA outlined a number of important points in respect of the scheme, including;
- The scheme must be for cattle finishers and payment targeted at finishers who incurred the most financial losses.
- All finished cattle should be covered in the scheme including steers, heifers, young bulls and cows, with the exception of cows with conformation score P and fat score 1 and calves. The IFA said that the Minister has made it clear factory-owned and dealer-owned cattle will not be covered.
- The payment rate must be a minimum of €100 per finished animal.
- Payments should apply to finished animals retrospectively from the announcement date by the Minister in order to “prevent factories using the support in an anti-competitive way to manipulate prices on cattle going forward”.
- There should be no restrictive limit on the number of eligible animals per farm which qualify.
- The terms and conditions of the scheme must be simple and farmer-friendly.
- There can be no conditionality attached to the scheme.
- The full funding of €50m must be utilised and paid out under the scheme. The terms and conditions must be structured a way to ensure the total funding amount of €50million is paid out to farmers and none of the funds are left unused.
- The application process should be simple and open for farmers to apply immediately.
- Payment should be made to all eligible applicants on or before the end of August, so as to ease the severe financial difficulties on finishing farms and also assist the weanling and store cattle trade in the second half of the year.
- The payment should apply to all finished cattle sold in the marts, provided those cattle were slaughtered within 30 days of purchase. The payment should go to the farmer who sold the animal regardless of who purchased the animals in the mart.
- The payment should apply to finished cattle exported live to Northern Ireland.
- The payment should apply to finished cattle exported live to international markets.
- The IFA said it should be structured in such a way under EU state aids approval under the COVID-19 Temporary State Aid Framework so as to ensure all cattle finishers that apply get paid on all eligible cattle.
- The scheme should positively accommodate farm partnerships and not in any way discriminate against individual farmer members in partnerships.
- IFA is available for further consultation with the Department of Agriculture on the scheme.