The INHFA believes that the new Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme is “at best a poor replacement” to the BDGP and will not provide the level of support the sector requires.
In its pre-Budget 2023 submission, the farm group is seeking an additional suckler support scheme, similar to BEEP, with a payment rate of €100/cow.
It says the scheme should focus on delivering specific welfare measures with access not dependent on Bord Bia membership.
This, it added, should also allow for a top-up payment of €40/bovines on hills and other critical habitats that helps to manage habitats through grazing.
The group estimates that this measure would require a budget allocation of €85m, along with an additional fund of €4m for marketing.
Suckler sector contracting
In its submission, a spokesperson for the farm group said:
“Our suckler sector has seen a major contraction in recent years but despite this, continues to be targeted for further reductions in some quarters.”
“When we assess our suckler sector with regard to climate change and biodiversity loss, it is vital that proper recognition is given to the extensive nature of most suckler enterprises.”
“These extensive farming systems are delivering in terms of carbon mitigation and for biodiversity, a fact that is recognised in a 2017 EU Commission report titled Grazing for Carbon.”
“Moreover, this can provide us with a unique marketing opportunity, which is why we are seeking a marketing budget of €6m/year to help promote naturally reared suckler beef across the EU and beyond.”
Currently, there is a budget of €2m/year for this, which has helped to “pave the way for a more ambitious marketing drive”, the group believes.
Fairness, not favouritism
The INHFA has publicly circulated its pre-Budget 2023 submission, which it has handed to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The farm organisation has stated that it is “seeking fairness, not favouritism”, and when drafting this year’s proposals, it says that it is “very conscious of the ever-increasing demands” around biodiversity loss and climate change.
Both of these issues, it says, are and will continue to have a “significant” impact on agriculture and the wider rural community.