The ICSA has called for a €300/cow suckler payment in its CAP Strategic Plan submission.
It has proposed a suckler cow variable premium worth around €120/cow calved in addition to BDGP/BEEP type scheme, which can, in total, deliver €300 per suckler cow.
The farm group stated it would not agree to any restrictions on the number of suckler cows a farmer can keep.
ICSA president, Dermot Kelleher, said:
“As we see a substantial increase in the number of dairy herds growing into hundreds of cows, it is unacceptable that the problems around dairy expansion would lead to punishing suckler farmers when the average suckler herd is less than 20 cows, and suckler herds of more than 100 cows are almost unheard of.”
The ICSA has proposed the following in respect of the suckler sector:
- 25% top-up for suckler cows to a maximum 40 cows (about €30 + €120), for up to five years under the variable suckler cow payment;
- An early retirement scheme for those aged 55 and over amounting to €100/cow for 5 years in order that young farmers can expand suckler herds.
On current cow numbers, the group said it would add €120/cow for the first 40 cows.
“We believe that the BDGP and BEEP payment value can also be increased to deliver an overall total of €300 on the first 40 cows, and €180 thereafter.”
Kelleher said that the farm association had devised a method to avoid quotas and capping on the suckler herd.
“In the unlikely event that suckler cow numbers increased nationally, there would be a percentage linear cut on the payment.”
Similarly, the group proposed that the coupled option could also deliver €16/ewe on the first 250 ewes.
It will seek a total payment of €35/ewe on the first 250 (adding in the Sheep Welfare Scheme) and €19/ewe after that, again with no quotas or capping.
“ICSA is arguing that because the suckler variable payment is front-loaded on the first 40 cows and the sheep scheme on the first 250 ewes, it is equivalent in effect to CRISS, particularly as these are low-income sectors.”
“We believe that this will allow Ireland to scrap the CRISS, which is a very inefficient way of targeting supports to those that need them most.”
Cost: 9.3% deduction from everybody’s per hectare payment (e.g., €23/ha from a payment which would otherwise be €250).
This means an annual €110 million fund in Pillar 1, which like the protein payment, would vary up or down according to the numbers of cows calved.
At 900,000 suckler calves registered, it would mean €122/head.
“However, it would be capped at 40 cows (as an alternative to CRISS), and this would potentially mean a little more per head. If cow numbers drop, the payment goes up.”
Early retirement scheme
The farm group believed the early retirement scheme for suckler farmers it proposes “which would allow leeway for younger farmers to grow their suckler herd and still keep payment rates high”.
“Also, this would keep the focus off suckler cows in terms of national emissions,” the farm leader concluded.