Restricting suckler cow numbers counterproductive – Matt Carthy TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy, has said that moves by the Department of Agriculture to artificially restrict suckler numbers will hurt family farmers and will be environmentally counterproductive.
He was speaking following revelations that the proposed Carbon Efficiency Programme will prevent suckler farmers from increasing herd size.
Teachta Carthy said:
“This is a non-sensical 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.
“The environmental credentials of Irish suckler beef are so strong that Sinn Féin have 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. The Minister has never proposed a mechanism to restrict the production of much less sustainable Factory Feed Lot beef, for example.
“Sinn Féin have long called for a single suckler scheme and welcome the governments adoption of this position. However, while a Sinn Féin scheme would deliver up to €300 per cow/calf pair with degraded payments up to 100 pair, the government have 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.”