ICSA “extremely disappointed” at efforts to cut beef price

5th July, 2013

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association says it is extremely disappointed at attempts by meat processors to cut the price of beef this week.

ICSA beef committee chair, Edmond Phelan, says that the factories are trying to pull prices by about 10c/kg – a move he describes as “cynical”. “As a result of the disastrous weather last year and for the first part of this year, there are a lot of stores on the market and prices are weak. However, the only thing keeping store prices from collapsing altogether is the relatively good price beef finishers are getting. If the beef price drops then I foresee huge problems for the suckler industry as a direct result.”

Mr Phelan concluded, “We are constantly pushing factories to commit to paying beef producers a margin that is sustainable in the long-term. Cynical price-lowering tactics like this are no good for the industry in the long run and do nothing to improve the relationship between producers and processors. Bargain hard and seek out the best quote would be the advice I would give to all beef farmers.”

ICSA encouraging participation in HSA farm safety questionnaire

5th July, 2013

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association is encouraging all farmers who receive a farm safety questionnaire from the Health and Safety Authority to fill it out and return it, in the interests of generating a greater understanding of this complex issue.

ICSA’s Connaught/Ulster vice president and spokesman on farm safety, John Flynn, said, “Over 3,000 farmers will be receiving this survey in the post from the HSA and I would be strongly encouraging everyone who gets it to give it their attention. The information gathered will be used to inform the HSA’s role in addressing the underlying issues related to dangerous situations in farming life.”

Mr Flynn said, “Farming is of course an inherently risky occupation, with factors such as unpredictable livestock, heavy machinery, and the ageing demographic all having an influence. However, there is a lot that we can do in terms of prevention in order to reduce the risks involved. This survey is an opportunity for farmers to shape the approach to farm safety in the future and as such, I’m hoping it will be given serious consideration by all who are asked to participate.”

Agreement on CAP welcome but compromise is far from ideal

26th June, 2013

Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association president Gabriel Gilmartin has welcomed agreement on CAP reform, which has been very difficult and led to a lot of uncertainty for farmers.

However, he said that the compromise remains far from ideal because it is linked to the original flawed concept of a flat rate payment. “ICSA is not happy to see cuts to payments for active farmers with modest payments but at least the more severe elements of the original plan have been watered down to the extent that some farmers will live with the compromises.”

“An average cut of 12% on top of 2% for young farmers, 3% for national reserve along with linear cuts and crisis fund cuts are too severe for many farmers but the original proposal for a flat rate would have meant cuts of 30-50% for many active farmers.”

He said that the 60% minimum payment will provide a welcome increase for some farmers but the fact that it seems likely that all landowners will qualify for a minimum payment of 60% of the average means that we are missing an opportunity for a really worthwhile increase to progressive and active farmers, which could have been achieved with greater targeting.”

“There is too much emphasis on levelling the field and not enough on helping those who want to help themselves. This CAP reform has been based on a flawed principle right from the start of moving all hectares to a flat rate. While we are not going to have a flat rate, the concept of a minimum of 60% for all hectares regardless of farming activity is still a flawed reform,” he added.

Mr Gilmartin concluded by thanking Minister Coveney and his officials for their hard work in limiting the worse impact of the original proposals.

ICSA: 60% minimum payment is a flawed effort at CAP reform

25th June, 2013

Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association president Gabriel Gilmartin has said that the 60% minimum payment emerging from CAP reform negotiations represents a crude and flawed effort to redistribute CAP funds and it will be too severe on typical cattle and sheep farmers with modest payments.

Speaking from Luxembourg where an ICSA delegation is closely monitoring the negotiations, Mr Gilmartin said, “The news that the minimum payment will be set at 60% of the average (or close to €150/ha) means that many farmers, currently on modest payments per hectare, will have a 12% or greater cut to their current payment in addition to a 2% cut for the young farmer scheme and 3% for the national reserve. While there is a maximum cut of 30% for the farmers with the biggest payments, it is the typical cattle and sheep farmer with payments in the range €300-500 that will suffer the most.”

“On the other hand, the fact that it seems likely that all landowners will qualify for this minimum payment means that we are missing an opportunity for a really worthwhile increase to progressive and active farmers, which could have been achieved with greater targeting.”

“There is too much emphasis on levelling the field and not enough on helping those who want to help themselves. This CAP reform has been based on a flawed principle right from the start of moving all hectares to a flat rate. While we are not going to have a flat rate, the concept of a minimum of 60% for all hectares regardless of farming activity is still a flawed reform,” he concluded.

ICSA: Minister Coveney must stand up for the productive farmers of Ireland

21st June, 2013

With just days to go before crucial EU Farm Council talks on the new CAP, The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association says Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must stand up for the productive farmers of Ireland.

ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin, who will lead an ICSA delegation to Luxembourg as EU farm ministers attempt to hammer out a deal next week, said, “ICSA has led calls for a more targeted CAP, which would benefit the active, productive farmers of Ireland on low or no Single Farm Payments. Minister Coveney, as Chair of the Council, must deliver for Irish farmers and for Irish farming into the future.”

“By this, I mean that cuts to active farmers must be minimised, especially to those who are on modest payments. We are also adamant that a minimum payment per hectare across every hectare in Ireland is not the way to go. What’s needed is a targeted minimum payment per hectare, directed at young and active farmers, particularly those with low or no payments.”

The ICSA leader explained that the organisation is also against any return to coupled payments. “Aside from the fact that it could mean a whole lot of red tape and quota restrictions for farmers, a cut to Pillar 1 payments to fund a premium for sucklers and ewes will mainly benefit the meat processors, and not the farmers.”

“Looking at Pillar 2 Rural Development payments, we must see them being used in the most targeted, efficient way possible, through a robust agri-environment scheme aimed at low-income cattle and sheep systems and through suckler cow and sheep schemes.”

Mr Gilmartin said, “We will continue to put the pressure on over the coming days while the final deal is being worked out in Luxembourg and Brussels. Irish cattle and sheep farmers are our priority and we are determined to see the best possible CAP deal done for them.”

ICSA: Minimum payment the wrong way to go

20th June, 2013

Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association CAP chairman Billy Gray has called on Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney TD to ensure that the active farmer with the modest payment is shielded to the greatest extent possible from cuts under any CAP re-distribution, while making provision for extra payments which should also be targeted at active farmers.

Ahead of the crucial Farm Council talks in Luxembourg next week, Mr Gray said, “The minimum payment on every hectare is the wrong way to go. We need a minimum payment per hectare but it must be targeted at young and active farmers who have a track record of being productive. We also need to have limits on how many hectares qualify for an increase in order to ensure that we can give the money where it is most needed. It is absolutely wrong that an inactive farmer could get a minimum payment on hundreds of hectares which up to now have been either rented out or not farmed productively.”

Mr Gray reiterated the ICSA position that a further cut of 7% to farmers’ single payments to fund a suckler premium of €50 and a ewe premium of €10 will be of no great benefit to anyone except meat factories. “Suckler cow numbers have increased in the past three years and farmers need the flexibility to reduce numbers when prices and profitability come under pressure.”

ICSA welcomes ‘pragmatic decision’ on Access to the Countryside bill

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association has welcomed the Government’s “pragmatic decision” not to press ahead with legislation in relation to access to the countryside for recreational use.

ICSA Connaught/Ulster vice president and member of Comhairle na Tuaithe, John Flynn, said, “This move recognises the consensual approach adopted at Comhairle na Tuaithe level towards hillwalking and the development of tourism arising from it. ICSA agrees with the Minister for the Environment that the current permissive access regime for recreational enjoyment of hill areas is working well. Maintaining this while continuing to debate the issues surrounding access to the countryside is a very pragmatic decision.”

ICSA says BVD compensation for sucklers welcome

14th June, 2013

ICSA suckler chairman Dermot Kelleher has welcomed the announcement by Minister Coveney that there would be a compensatory payment for BVD positive calves in the suckler herd. The payment of €100 applies to second and all subsequent calves in a herd that are culled because they test positive for BVD.

“The compensation will not come anywhere near the value of a suckler calf in most cases but at least it is recognition that the impact of losing a quality calf is particularly severe in low margin suckler enterprises.”

Mr Kelleher also argued that the compensation should extend to cover the first calf in every herd.

ICSA Working to Secure Practical Approach to Reform of Commonage Management

13th June, 2013

President of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association, Gabriel Gilmartin, has assured Mayo commonage farmers that ICSA will continue to work hard to ensure a practical, flexible approach is taken to the reform of commonage management.

ICSA sees a definite need for an overhaul of the current system. However, the Department of Agriculture’s draft proposals for a new management framework have been sharply criticised by ICSA as being too prescriptive and not reflective of the reality on the ground. Mr Gilmartin said, “We have a number of issues with the proposals as published by the Department. There is an overall lack of flexibility in the proposals, which do not take into account the hugely varied types of commonages and management practices currently applied. We have a real concern over the possibility of penalties being applied to farmers – who complied with the rules – as a result of the failure of one or more other shareholders to comply. As well as that, the proposals as they stand simply do not adequately address the complex issue of dormant shares in commonages nor do they take into account the capacity of individual shareholders to increase their stocking rates to meet new requirements.”

Given these concerns, ICSA welcomed the fact that the Department held back from sending out letters to individual stakeholders outlining their proposals; but Mr Gilmartin says the process of overhauling commonage management must continue, on a more consultative, ‘bottom-up’ basis. “This is particularly important in a county like Mayo, which has the highest percentage of eligible land in commonage at 29.5 per cent. What ICSA is working to deliver for the farmers of Mayo is a system that incentivises commonage shareholders to re-stock and work co-operatively, and does not penalise farmers for the actions of others; provides for flexibility in how different types of commonages are managed; and is comprehensively backed up by a well-resourced advisory and communication support system.”