DEPARTMENT MUST REINSTATE TWICE WEEKLY PAYMENT RUNS TO CLEAR BACKLOG

18 NOVEMBER 2019

ICSA Rural Development chairman Tim Farrell has called on the Department of Agriculture to reinstate twice weekly payment runs while a backlog of payments persists. ICSA understands any farmer awaiting Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payment, including those who have been cleared for payment, will now receive nothing until 2 December at the earliest.

Commenting, Mr Farrell said, “Since 16 October, there has been two payment runs per week. However, this ended last week with no more payments due to come out until the first week in December. It makes no sense to discontinue twice weekly payment runs, particularly as many of the delays have been caused on the Department side,” he said.

“It’s very unfair on farmers who have had a tough year to be made wait it out for another two weeks. Many are at their wits end with bills to pay and loans to manage. It’s very distressing for farmers to see their credit ratings affected through no fault of their own, and this will cause on-going problems. It’s bad enough having to wait for your payment to clear but having to wait for two weeks after you’ve been cleared is ridiculous. Farmers can’t afford to be held up like this.”

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INCREASED SHEEP WELFARE PAYMENT AND BEAM TYPE SCHEME IS A MUST FOR THE SHEEP SECTOR

15 NOVEMBER 2019

ICSA sheep chair Sean McNamara has said the financial losses incurred by sheep farmers during 2019 must be reflected in an increased payment through the Sheep Welfare Scheme and a BEAM type compensation scheme.

“The Sheep Welfare Scheme needs to be extended beyond this year and deliver a higher rate of payment. ICSA believes, at minimum, a payment of €15 per ewe must be facilitated. This can be done through a bolt-on mechanism to the scheme,” he said.

In conjunction with increased payments through the Sheep Welfare Scheme, Mr McNamara said a BEAM type scheme for sheep is also required. “It’s not just the beef sector that’s been badly affected by the never-ending uncertainty of Brexit; the sheep sector has been severely hit with lower prices too. Most fit lambs were sold below the cost of production this year. It’s high time the financial losses of sheep farmers were acknowledged, and compensation provided.”

“Planning for this must begin immediately and these payments combined must amount to more that a token payment. Token payments will not keep the sheep sector viable,” he said.

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DELAYED PAYMENTS CAUSING UNTOLD HARDSHIP TO FARM FAMILIES

14 NOVEMBER 2019

ICSA rural development chair Tim Farrell has said Department delays in processing payments due to mapping issues are causing untold hardship to farmers. “The practice of indefinitely withholding 100% of payments is unjust and the impact on farm families cannot be overstated,” he said.

Minister Michael Creed has acknowledged that 1,952 remote sensing inspections under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) have yet to be completed while a further 98 farms have been inspected by satellite but remain unpaid. In addition, 2,505 farmers await Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payments with only one third of these having been inspected to date.

“Farmers are not being furnished with any information as to how long it will take to have their individual cases resolved. This is extremely frustrating for farmers who rely on these funds to pay their bills and service their loans. If delays are being caused on the Department side, they should at the very least issue an interim payment while the issues are resolved.”

The Department of Agriculture is currently updating its mapping and imagery systems for EU funded schemes. This process has been ongoing throughout 2019 and will continue over the next two years.

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TWICE YEARLY TB TESTING WILL CAUSE A MUTINY

14 NOVEMBER 2019

ICSA Animal Health and Welfare chair Hugh Farrell has said the recent beef protests would seem like a tea party compared to the unrest that would follow if any Minister tried to introduce twice yearly TB testing on all herds, including those that are TB free.

“This would cause a mutiny; it is the most outrageous suggestion I’ve ever heard. Every farmer would have to down tools and outright refuse to cooperate with the Department causing a further strain on relations between farmers and Department officials.”

“This proposal coming from Europe will be voted upon by the Parliament next month. It is critical that Irish politicians and MEPs mount a vigorous campaign to ensure this ludicrous suggestion never sees the light of day. However, I am very annoyed that this plan has not been communicated to us by the Department. It is vital that the Minister immediately outlines what he has done to ensure that Europe understands that this proposal is unworkable and utterly over the top.”

“Farmers will be incensed. They already contribute enormously to the TB eradication Programme in terms of paid testing and levies as well as several days of unpaid labour.  Over 96% of herds are TB clear. Many have been clear for years. What possible use is it putting all of these herds to the incredible expense, inconvenience and stress of totally unnecessary extra testing? There is also the fact that TB testing is very stressful on animals and at a time when animal welfare is paramount, it is unconscionable to be wasting time and money on the herds that have no TB issues.”

“ICSA will not even be considering who should pay for any proposed second testing. Instead we will be focusing on rejecting this proposal unequivocally. Farmers will revolt against this. This has the potential to bring down a government. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.”

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PATIENCE RUNNING OUT AS PROGRESS ON THE BEEF AGREEMENT RUNS AT A SNAIL’S PACE

8 NOVEMBER 2019

ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham has said Minister Creed must up the ante and get the Beef Markets Taskforce moving. “Following a summer of protests and tough negotiations an agreement was reached by all sides. We now want to see that agreement implemented in full,” he said.

“A major part of the agreement was the establishment of the Beef Markets Taskforce. The meat industry, by failing to remove each of the outstanding injunctions, have single-handedly paralysed the taskforce and prevented it from even getting off the ground. One group, under the ABP banner, is effectively holding the whole process to ransom. The minister must answer why he has allowed this to happen.”

“Furthermore, it is high time for the Bord Bia Beef Price Index to be up and running and for Teagasc to come through with their promised desktop review of the grid. Missing deadlines is not acceptable.”

“We have fought hard for more fairness and more transparency in the beef sector and the taskforce has the potential to deliver this. These are long-term structural changes that are well overdue and ICSA will not stand back and allow the can to kicked down the road repeatedly.”

“It is scandalous that farmers feel they are actually in a worse position now than they were several months ago. Factories are continuing to use the excuse of a backlog of cattle, but the reality is they are just continuing to manipulate the system at the expense of the primary producer.”

“Our beef farmers can’t wait any longer. We will not accept any further delays. The taskforce a has a lot of work to do, yet nothing concrete has come of it yet. Minister Creed must step up the pace, get things moving, and not allow any single player to employ delaying tactics.”

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FARMERS WITH FRAGMENTED HOLDINGS TO BE HIT HARDEST WITH UNACCEPTABLE IRISH WATER PRICE HIKES

4 NOVEMBER 2019

ICSA Rural Development chairman Tim Farrell has said he is outraged at the price hikes announced by Irish water that will affect thousands of Irish farmers whose water comes from the public supply. “In some cases, it is forecast that bills will rise by 78%, which is totally unacceptable,” he said.

The new Irish Water pricing structure will come into effect from 1 May 2020 and will impose a fixed base charge for every connection on top of paying for the water used.

“Farmers with fragmented holdings are the ones who will be hurt the most by this. These farmers in particular will be hammered for having multiple connections to service their farms. This is likely to severely impact the sectors with the lowest incomes and the tightest margins, so again, it’s hitting those who can least afford it the most.”

“ICSA sees no reason why farmers should be expected pay charges on top of charges, particularly when those in urban areas have point blank refused to pay for water. A standing charge for each connection on a fragmented holding is excessive in the extreme. There can be no justification for it.”

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EAT LANCET LEADER BUYS AIRLINE BUT LEADS ATTACK ON LIVESTOCK FARMING – TIME TO CALL OUT THE ANTI MEAT HYPROCRISY SAYS ICSA

4 NOVEMBER 2019

ICSA president Edmond Phelan has said news that Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia has been bought by a consortium led by Petter Stordalen exposes the complete hypocrisy and hidden agendas behind the EAT Lancet report which earlier this year advocated a global switch to a plant based diet on climate change grounds.

“How can the EAT Lancet report have any credibility when one of its major backers is now buying an airline specialising in discretionary tourism travel?  It is hypocritical in the extreme to have a multi-millionaire investor lecturing ordinary people that they have to virtually eliminate livestock products from their diet while he resurrects an airline company owned by Thomas Cook which went into liquidation recently. This is part of a wider pattern where the climate change debate has been hijacked to divert attention from fossil fuels and blame meat instead.”

“The EAT Lancet report masqueraded as a virtuous effort to move the world to a healthier diet and tackle climate change. On its publication, ICSA was highly critical and slated it for being part of a war on meat. The report was clearly biased from the outset and blamed livestock farming, especially red meat, for all of the world’s problems in terms of health and climate change. It suggested that moving to an overwhelmingly plant based diet would be a major game changer on climate change and that this was an urgent challenge for humanity.”

“Now it turns out that Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia has been acquired by a trio of investors including the Strawberry Group which will hold 40% of the business. The Strawberry Group is a fund controlled by Petter Stordalen, who, along with his wife, is behind the EAT Foundation which is responsible for the EAT Lancet report.”

It is now more clear than ever that people should ignore the extreme vegan ideology and the anti-meat agenda. It is obvious that someone who invests in an airline is not fit to lecture people on giving up meat nor should they be allowed undermine livestock family farms, where farmers produce healthy, nutritious food to the highest animal welfare standards.”

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/thomas-cooks-nordic-airline-renamed-after-investors-461907/

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MORE TRANSPARENCY NEEDED ON IMPORTS OF LIVE SHEEP

1 NOVEMBER 2019

ICSA sheep chair Sean McNamara has demanded information on the numbers of live sheep imports be publicised on a weekly basis. “Processors are bringing in huge volumes of imported lambs and this information needs to be in the public domain. We must have full transparency in this area if we are to have any hope of sheep farmers getting a fair return for their produce.”

Continuing Mr McNamara said, “ICSA understands that 456,452 sheep were imported from Northern Ireland and Scotland in 2018. Yet we have been met with nothing but vagueness and excuses from meat processors on this issue. Sheep from across the border have always been brought down here but the larger numbers are getting out of hand. Factories need to come clean on when and why and from where they are bringing in such large volumes for foreign lambs. We don’t have a level playing field and Irish sheep farmers are constantly losing out and are unable to make a decent return.”

“It’s clear to ICSA that factories are using these imports to keep a lid on prices. Furthermore, we have no information whether these imported sheep are subject to the same strict rules as local farmers regarding Clean Livestock Policy or indeed what happens to them post slaughter. This again brings up labelling issues and puts at risk the whole idea of traceability, origin green and quality assurance. ”

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ICSA WELCOMES ADDITIONAL TIME FOR FARMERS TO SUBMIT BEEP DATA

1 NOVEMBER 2019

ICSA president Edmond Phelan has welcomed the announcement by Minister Creed this morning to extend the closing dates for the BEEP scheme. Farmers will now have until 8 Nov to weigh their cows and unweaned calves and submit their data to ICBF by 15 Nov at 5pm. Mr Phelan said he would encourage all those who have yet to fulfil these tasks to do so without delay.

“ICSA called for this extension and we are pleased the minister has agreed to give farmers additional time. Ultimately, we want to see this scheme continued as it improves the quality of the data transmitted to ICBF and is useful for farmers to measure the performance of their animals.”

However, Mr Phelan said that the money is just a drop in the ocean compared to the challenges facing the sector, and on its own it won’t be enough. “The reality is that an extra €40 is not enough to make a real difference for suckler farmers. There is scope for additional payments to assist the sector which are compatible with EU objectives and ICSA will continue to push for additional financial supports for suckler farmers.”

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ICSA SLAMS TB REPORT SUGGESTING COMPENSATION LEVELS SHOULD BE CAPPED

31 OCTOBER 2019

 

ICSA Animal Health & Welfare chair Hugh Farrell has slammed a Department of Agriculture report that suggests TB compensation levels are set too high. “This report will make no sense to any farmer who has endured a TB outbreak. It is patently wrong to suggest the current levels of TB compensation amounts to more than the value of the animal. It is simply an incorrect calculation that does not take into consideration the overall financial impact of a TB breakdown,” he said.

The report was compiled by IGEES, is titled Spending Review 2019. Animal Health: TB Eradication and has been published on www.gov.ie under Spending Review 2019.

Commenting further Mr Farrell said, “Far from being overcompensated, farmers are short changed when it comes to TB compensation. In 2018 the contribution made by farmers to the TB Eradication Programme was €35.2m. This comprises an estimated €28m in bTB testing paid directly to private veterinary practitioners and €7m in disease levies. This 2018 figure of €35.2m shows a farmer contribution increase of 14.6% or €4.46m since 2012, whereas the total for On Farm Market Valuation (OVFM) and other supports such as the Hardship Grant and Income Supplement has increased by just 8% or €1.4m during that time. In short, farmers have paid and continue to pay more than their fair share.”

“In addition to their €35 million financial contribution, farmers also contribute a massive amount in terms of unpaid labour. ICSA have assessed the labour costs for farmers incurred in testing cattle to be in the order of €12.5 million. If account is taken of book work and other TB associated tasks the figure is even higher, making their real economic contribution closer to €50m annually.”

“Meanwhile, as well as the €25m farmers paid to veterinary practitioners in 2018, DAFM staffing costs are estimated at €28m, all while farmer labour is valued at zero. The point is that no TB strategy will be acceptable or workable unless compensation is seen to be fair. And if cost cutting is required, it needs to come from elsewhere.”

ICSA would take exception with the notion that compensation levels have to “counteract the moral hazard of potentially encouraging excessive risk taking behaviour.” No farmer wants to get TB and no farmer believes they could ever possibly be better off following a TB outbreak. Not only is it a struggle to get the true value of your lost animals but the limitations imposed on your ability to trade, to buy and sell when you normally would, to try to run your enterprise with limited cashflow all make this a preposterous allegation.”

The TB Forum must be reconvened to examine these conclusions. It is unfortunate that any credence was given to the notion that less than 100% compensation can be considered the optimum strategy for TB eradication and ICSA will be opposing this at every level.”

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