One of the country’s farm organisations insists that more financial support for suckler, beef and sheep farmers can help reduce overall agricultural emissions.
On the back of this belief, the ICSA has proposed a support programme to the tune of €250 million per annum to help Irish farmers achieve climate targets.
The ICSA, as highlighted by its leader, Dermot Kelleher, at its AGM yesterday (Thursday), has called for “more financial support” for the country’s sheep, suckler and beef sectors.
Financial support for farmers
The organisation’s president outlined its calls for:
- €80 million for store producers and beef finishers for a scheme to weigh cattle at regular intervals with a view to earlier average finishing;
- An additional €60 million for suckler farmers over and above what has been agreed in the CAP and promised in the budget;
- Sheep farmers: €50 million in addition to the CAP support to deliver a ewe payment of €35/ewe.
Addressing the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, at the organisation’s AGM, Kelleher stated:
“That is why we have proposed that you deliver a payment to suckler farmers who tighten up calving and reduce marginally the first calving age of a suckler heifer.”
“That is why we want you to reward store producers and beef finishers who weigh cattle regularly with a view to finishing cattle at an earlier stage.”
“It is uneconomic to ask these farmers to feed more meal, especially in the times we live in, but regular weighing can go hand in glove with more efficient growth rates off grass.”
“I welcome the fact that you have acknowledged that asking people to give up sucklers is not the way forward.”
The farm leader told the minister that if he is to be genuine in his support for the suckler sector, he must ensure that farmers who remain in sucklers can be more profitable and more sustainable.
“That is why, minister we need to see progress on helping active farmers to become more profitable and, at the same time, more sustainable.”
Furthermore, the group also called for more support for tillage farmers to “keep the balance right” and to ensure Ireland more home-grown feed and straw for its livestock sector.
‘Disastrous’ prices for sheep farmers
Kelleher stressed that sheep farmers are “struggling badly with disastrous prices” when every other sector of farming is seeing product prices increasing in line with cost inflation.
He described the €12/ewe under the Sheep Improvement Scheme in the current CAP as “an insult” at a time when fertiliser is close to €1,000/tonne.
ICSA has proposed a package of measures to help what Kelleher described as the “beleaguered” sheep sector.
It has called for a rescue package in the form of emergency aid and for additional funds to be locked into the Sheep Improvement Scheme to increase the payment rate per ewe to €35/head.
Kelleher told the minister that “you cannot bury your head in the sand and pretend that lamb price falling below €6/kg is sustainable when dairy prices are at record highs”.
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