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€69 Million May Lead to Market Driven Processing

26 May 2009

IRELAND - IFA President Padraig Walshe said the announcement by the Taoiseach Brian Cowen of €69m grant-aid investment for the beef and sheepmeat processing sector is a positive development for Irish agriculture and agri-food exports.

Padraig Walshe said this strong investment by the Government in the processing sector must be matched with delivery by the processors of viable cattle and sheep prices for Irish farmers on a par with prices that pertain across EU markets.

He said, “A modern market driven processing sector will help secure higher value export markets for Irish livestock and create badly needed jobs for the economy. The processing sector must now secure higher returns for livestock farmers.”

He said viable cattle and sheep prices are essential to maintain a strong production base at farm level.

Mr Walshe said the value of beef and sheepmeat exports stands at €1.9bn. In 2008, the Irish livestock sector produced 540,000 tonnes of beef, of which 487,000 tonnes were exported at a value of €1.7bn. Exports to Ireland's largest market in the UK topped 260,000 tonnes and a further 220,000 were exported to continental Europe. Sheepmeat production stands at 59,000 tonnes, with exports of 42,000 valued at €170m. France is our major export market for lamb, taking 23,000 tonnes last year.

The IFA President again called on the Government to immediately announce the allocation of €29m in unused EU single farm payment funds to sheep producers. He pointed out that there are no obstacles in the way of the Government making this announcement, and Brussels cleared the way in the CAP Health Check last November.

Mr Walshe also called on the Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith to increase the payment rate under the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme. He said working within the €250m allocated budget for the scheme and with a participation rate of 750,000, Minister Smith could increase the payment rate to €60 per cow. This will not require clearance form Brussels and the Minister could make this announcement immediately.

With the very difficult spring period and severe fallback in cattle prices, Padraig Walshe said this move by Minister Smith is essential to the viability of suckler producers this year.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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