24 MAY 2019

ICSA suckler chair John Halley has said he will be batting for suckler farmers to get their fair share of the €100m Brexit support package for beef farmers. “Since March 2017 weanlings have been back 30 to 40 cent a kilo. That equates to losses of between €120 to €160 a head for top quality weanlings. Those are massive losses for a suckler farmer to bear.”

“While finishers are able to cut their cloth according to their measure when they go back to the ring, suckler farmers are not so fortunate as they just have to take what they can get. It must be remembered, if the finishers don’t have the raw material to work with then the finisher will have to produce the calves for themselves.”

“It is imperative that the suckler farmer is protected and the losses they have suffered must be taken into consideration when the support funds are being allocated. When the finisher sneezes, it’s the suckler farmer that gets the flu.”



22 MAY 2019

ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham has said farmer owned feedlots are entitled to a fair share of the €100m Brexit support package for beef farmers. “These farmers are important to the cattle trade and have suffered badly too,” he said.

“It is important to remember that many feedlots are owned by farm families. Their feedlot status is a Department of Agriculture TB measure and used for managing TB regulations only. This does not mean they are not genuine family farms.”

“On the other hand, ICSA is adamant that factory owned feedlots should not receive any support. Factories are the ones who have made a killing over recent months and ICSA will be insisting they have no access to any portion of these badly needed funds. It is our absolute priority that these funds need to be directed at those who are genuinely deserving.”



21 MAY 2019

ICSA sheep chair Sean McNamara has called on meat processors to stop giving preference to lambs from the north and elsewhere at the expense of Irish lambs. “It’s disgraceful to see Irish lambs being turned away because lairages are full of imported lambs. They have lambs available on their doorsteps, yet preference is being given to truckloads of foreign lambs every day of the week,” he said.

“At present, ICSA has reason to believe up to 40% of the current sheep kill is made up of foreign lambs. While we accept that a certain amount of imported lamb is required to meet export demands, the numbers coming in now are only serving to keep the prices paid to Irish farmers at rock bottom. It’s a shameful tactic and a shocking way to treat a sector that operates on such slim margins. With the price for spring lamb crashing below €5.50/kg, sheep farmers are facing enormous difficulties.”

ICSA intends to keep up the pressure to have these cuts reversed and officials from the association will be meeting with several processors in the coming days.



20 MAY 2019

ICSA’s sheep committee is today protesting at Irish Country Meats (ICM), Camolin, Co Wexford, as processors across the board continue to hammer sheep farmers with savage price cuts. Speaking at the protest, ICSA sheep chair Sean McNamara said, “There is no way sheep farmers can bear these sorts of price cuts and if they continue, most of us will not be able to stay going. Our produce has been rendered virtually worthless; we might as well be giving it away for free.” he said.

“It costs a lot of money to rear these lambs and we need to be getting a minimum of €7/kg to make it viable. Right now, prices have gone well below the €6/kg mark, plus we’re getting hammered by weight limits. We’re losing money hand over fist and it’s just not sustainable.”

“Sheep farming is a low-income business; how do they expect us to stay going and maintain standards if processors refuse to give us an adequate price? EID was supposed to help, but all that has done is increase costs for us while factories and marts drag their heals on installing the necessary readers. We were also promised that new markets would be delivered but the reality for those on the ground is that new markets only make money for those further along the chain and never filter back to the primary producer.”

“The anger is palpable amongst the farmers protesting here today. Livelihoods are under threat and to make matters worse, they’re being driven out of business unfairly. We still have any amount of lambs coming in from the north and elsewhere, purely to depress the price here. Trade has never been as good in the UK as it is at the moment so there is no valid reason to be turning away Irish lambs in favour of bringing in supplies from elsewhere. We are being treated we utter contempt.”

Mr McNamara concluded by saying, “Sheep farmers are on their knees. We are here to make it very clear that these price cuts have to be reversed for the sector to have any chance of surviving.”



16 MAY 2019

ICSA beef chairman Edmund Graham has said that it is now vital that Minister Michael Creed engages in consultation with farm organisations on the means of distributing the €100 million Brexit package with a view to ensuring the money is with farmers as soon as possible.

“ICSA has welcomed the announcement which follows on from extensive ICSA lobbying which kicked into gear at the ICSA AGM in January. ICSA had a detailed discussion with senior members of Commissioner Hogan’s cabinet in February in Brussels where ICSA zoned in on the need for a package regardless of whether it was a no-deal Brexit or not.”

“A Brexit Support package for farmers was also a key component of ICSA’s submission on the Future of Beef in the Context of Foodwise 2025 which was submitted on 20 March. ICSA had analysed the price differential between cattle prices in 2015 and cattle prices in a 2019 post-Brexit world. This identified that Irish beef farmers were losing up to €4 million weekly due to Brexit related price cuts, and had been doing so since last autumn. ICSA had previously highlighted the devastation that Brexit was causing the beef sector when we were the first farm organisation to protest beef price cuts outside meat factories last October.”

“In April, ICSA met Commissioner Hogan in Brussels where we got the message across to the Commissioner that Brexit had already happened for beef farmers. At that meeting, the Commissioner accepted the ICSA argument and committed to doing his very best to get emergency funding agreed by EU Budget Commissioner Oetttinger. ICSA followed that up with a detailed meeting with Minister Creed in Dublin.”

“We acknowledge the efforts of the Minister and the Commissioner to make this happen. However, it is now essential that plans and resources are in place to make sure that the money is delivered to farmers as soon as possible. In our view, there is no way we could accept payments being delayed until the autumn. We would see July 31 as the absolute deadline for all monies to be in farmers’ accounts having regard to the challenges of deciding the carve-up and making sure that systems are up and running to deliver the payment. While we are heartened by the Taoiseach’s commitment to pay within weeks, consultations with farm organisations must start as soon as possible, and in any event immediately after the EU elections.”



16 MAY 2019

ICSA beef chairman Edmund Graham has welcomed news that a Brexit package for beef farmers worth €100 million is due to be formally announced today (Thursday).

“ICSA met Commissioner Phil Hogan in Brussels in April and he committed to asking the EU budget commissioner for Brexit funds. We also lobbied Minister Creed repeatedly over recent months to outline the urgency of a payment to the beef farming sector.”

“This will be an important boost to a sector that has absolutely been hammered. ICSA analysis had shown that Brexit was costing beef farmers up to €4 million per week on the prime cattle kill and we strongly argued that these losses could not be carried.”

“There will be some conditions attached to this and we await the detail on this. However, it is important to acknowledge the efforts of the Minister and his officials and also the work of Commissioner Hogan in extracting €50 million exceptional funds from Commissioner Oettinger. The other €50 million is to be co-funded by the exchequer.”



14 MAY 2019

ICSA sheep chair Sean McNamara has said factory quotes of €6/kg for spring lamb at this time of the year is a real slap in the face for sheep farmers. “This time last year factories were quoting €7/kg for the same product. This is the minimum the spring lamb sector needs to make it viable and for early lamb production to be sustained. Yet, here we are again, factories failing pay out an adequate price for this highly specialised premium product,” he said.

“It was also this time last year that we were promised the sun, moon and stars if we agreed to EID tagging. So we’ve increased our costs but it hasn’t made a jot of difference to the price we’re getting. Processors are just continuing to substitute Irish lamb with cheap lamb and lamb products imported from the UK. It’s a cynical tactic to keep a lid on the price paid out to farmers here.”

“It is disgraceful way to treat sheep farmers who have been planning and working all the hours in the depths of winter to ensure the supply is there to meet demand at this peak time. €7/kg is the absolute minimum needed for farmers to make any sort of return on their investment. We’ll all be driven out of business at this rate.”



14 MAY 2019

ICSA suckler chair John Halley has said that one decent REPS type scheme is what’s required to put money back in suckler farmers’ pockets. “Suckler farmers are fed up of the current array of schemes which are just not delivering. There are too many terms and conditions attached and they are of no real benefit financially to farmers at the end of the day. Farmers are sick and tired of talking shops; the time has come for action,” he said.

“Suckler farmers do not want a scheme where state bodies are telling them what kind of cow to breed. They do not want a scheme where they are being pushed towards half bred cows from the dairy herd for replacements. But they also don’t want a scheme that simply allows meat factories to keep prices low in the knowledge that suckler farmers are locked into a scheme that guarantees supplies of loss-making cattle.”

“Meat Industry Ireland’s call for a coupled payment for suckler cows is no surprise. The meat industry wants a coupled payment so that farmers continue to produce more and more cattle at a price less than the cost of production. It’s really that simple and it has always been the policy of the meat industry.”

“Farmers need to be very wary of falling for this misguided proposal. If the meat industry wants sucklers, they should pay a fair price. A coupled payment is a cop-out by the meat industry to keep farmers losing money on production. Farm organisations that support the meat industry proposals need to look at basic economic principles. When we had decoupled payments, beef price was €2.50/kg.”

“When you hear the meat industry looking for a coupled payment you should know it’s because they are seeing dollar signs. It’s clear that current problems will not be solved when farmers are desperately trying to get cattle into factories because supply is exceeding demand in markets that can afford a viable price.”

“There is no country in Europe that gives a €200 coupled payment per suckler cow. But if we do close down other schemes to fund a new scheme, we need to be very precise about devising a scheme that puts real money into the pockets of the farmer. The biggest loss to cattle and sheep farmers was the old REPS scheme where farmers typically got up to €10,000 for providing a tidy, biodiverse landscape which gave multiple benefits to rural economies. In reality, the CAP budget needs to be increased in line with inflation. For too long politicians have accepted an ongoing erosion of the value of CAP supports in real terms and then they wonder why farmers are angry. No other sector would accept payments which have not increased in line with inflation since the 1990s.”

“It is now time for the Government to wake up to the threat faced by the suckler and beef sectors. We need a concerted effort to get more and more live exports and of course, ICSA is demanding a Brexit rescue package from the EU to cover losses sustained over the past few months. Unless something is done soon, there will be no suckler sector in a few years’ time.”



13 MAY 2019

ICSA Vice President for Munster Dermot Kelleher has said, “There is no point in complaining about politicians if you don’t avail of the opportunity to grill them on the issues that affect you most before casting your all-important vote. The candidates are eager to engage; this is your chance to hear what they have to say.”

Mr Kelleher was speaking in advance of an ICSA hustings featuring candidates in the upcoming European elections from the Ireland South constituency. The event will take place tomorrow night, Tuesday 14 May, in the Charleville Park Hotel, Charleville, Co Cork and will commence at 8pm.

Candidates confirmed for the hustings include:

Liadh Ní Riada MEP, Billy Kelleher, Malcolm Byrne, Grace O’Sullivan, Liam Minehan, Breda Gardner, Diarmaid O’Flynn and Walter Ryan Purcell.

All are welcome to attend.

For further enquiries, please call ICSA in Portlaoise on 057 8662120 or ICSA Vice President for Munster, Dermot Kelleher on 087 6799178.



13 MAY 2019

Offaly ICSA are hosting an open farmer meeting featuring local candidates in the upcoming European and local elections on Friday 17 May. The meeting will take place in Shinrone Community Centre, The Green, Shinrone, Co Offaly at 8pm.

The meeting will also feature John Kenny from Agritech discussing best practice in silage production and silage preservation.

ICSA Offaly chair William Reid said, “All local candidates have been invited to attend to answer questions on local farming and rural issues. The candidates are eager to hear your concerns, whether they be about ANC or the proposed water pipeline, so I would encourage everyone to come along and hear what they have to say before casting your vote.”

All are welcome to attend.

For further enquiries, please call ICSA in Portlaoise on 057 8662120 or ICSA Offaly chair William Reid on 086 8174756.