CAP Implementation Must Secure Suckler Herd

IRELAND - Strong and decisive action is required if stability is to be brought to the national suckler cow herd, said Irish Farmers Association President, John Bryan at the AIB National Livestock Show last week.
calendar icon 13 August 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

His warning was that, if CAP reform does not a strong suckler cow payment, there is a risk that the 'jewel asset' in Ireland's €2.3 billion beef and livestock sector industry could be at risk. 

Mr Bryan said there is intense economic pressure on the suckler cow herd at farm level as a result of severe income difficulties imposed from budget cuts on the farm schemes over the last number of years and the fodder crisis last spring. He said the budget cuts alone, involving the abolition of the suckler cow welfare scheme, cuts to the Disadvantage area scheme and REPS/AEOS, has hit suckler farm incomes by over €130 per cow.

The IFA leader said the pressure on cows was confirmed by the most recent ICBF data confirming a 29 per cent increase in beef cows leaving the national herd and a 7 per cent drop in calving’s to date this year. On top of this, there is widespread evidence that a very significant percentage of cows have not gone back in calf this spring. In addition, he said suckler dispersal sales are widespread in marts across the country.

John Bryan said with a strong commitment from the Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD to protect the suckler herd, Minister Coveney must lead the way at the Cabinet table when the decisions around the Budget are made over the next two months. “The Minister cannot allow himself be left behind in the pre-Budget negotiations”.

John Bryan said, “IFA analysis of the Government’s own figures shows the disproportionate impact on the sector of successive budgets. Since 2008, the total Agriculture spend has been reduced by 41.2 per cent , compared to a reduction of 12.6 per cent for total spending across all Government departments.

"The IFA President said the Minister must use the Budget to begin to reverse past draconian cuts to farm schemes which have impacted severely on low-income farmers.”

IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said it is now clear that it was a mistake to abolish the suckler cow welfare scheme in last year’s budget. He said this move on top of the severe winter and fodder crisis rocked confidence in suckler farmers and sent a wrong signal at a crucial time to our most important indigenous industry.

The IFA Livestock leader said the suckler cow herd is the backbone of the beef and livestock sector. An IFA study of the importance of the Cattle and Sheep sectors to the Irish economy by Professor Alan Renwick from UCD shows that the €2.3bn output at farm gate level creates total economic output of €5.7bn.

In addition, the Irish cattle and sheep sectors support 100,000 farmers and over 50,000 jobs in the wider economy. “One of the key findings in this report is that each €1 of direct support for cattle and sheep farmers underpins over €4 of aggregate output in the economy.

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