Moves by the Department of Agriculture to “artificially restrict suckler numbers” will “hurt family farmers” and will be “environmentally counterproductive”.
That is according to Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy, who spoke in light of the proposed Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme.
Restrict suckler numbers
He responded to reports that the programme will prevent suckler farmers from increasing herd sizes during the five-year contract.
“This is a nonsensical proposition. Irish suckler farmers produce some of the most environmentally sustainable and natural beef in the world.”
“This should be celebrated and capitalised upon to enhance family farm incomes for those who have been operating on margins much too tight for far too long. The sad reality is that our premium product is also the least profitable.”
Suckler PGI and scheme
“The environmental credentials of Irish suckler beef are so strong that Sinn Féin has long advocated for a dedicated suckler PGI that we believe could deliver a real premium for suckler farmers.”
“It is ludicrous that, rather than adopt such an approach, the Minister for Agriculture intends to instead artificially restrict herd sizes at home.”
“At the same time, his government continues to support the EU-Mercosur trade deal, which will see an additional 99,000 tonnes of less sustainable beef flooding the EU market.”
“While schemes understandably limit the number of units that farmers receive payment for, based on previous production, only our suckler farmers have faced compulsory limits to qualify for schemes.
He said the minister has never proposed a mechanism to restrict the production of much less sustainable factory feedlot beef, for example.
“Sinn Féin has long called for a single suckler scheme and welcomes the government’s adoption of this position.
He said that Sinn Féin scheme would deliver up to €300 per cow/calf pair with degraded payments of up to 100 pairs. However, he added that the government has yet to clarify what their payment schedule will be.
“And yet, they confirm that they will penalise farmers if they produce additional sustainable beef in the future. It beggars belief.”
“I am particularly concerned that if there is inflexibility with the reference year. This could unfairly penalise younger farmers who might have only been in the process of building up their herds during a proposed reference period.”
“The minister must immediately clarify this situation. He must categorically rule out restrictions that penalise sustainable suckler farmers,” he concluded.