9th May 2014
ICSA president Patrick Kent has called for a special GLAS payment of an additional €1,600 for suckler and sheep farmers participating in the new agri-environment scheme, which would be linked with co-operating with Carbon Footprint measuring and improvement. ICSA also called for restoration of the original levels of Disadvantaged Area payment on up to 45 ha.
The payment would be made at a rate of €50/ha on up to 32 ha and would involve suckler and sheep farmers working with Bord Bia’s Origin Green strategy. The idea is that farmers who are in the quality assurance scheme and who thereby undergo a sustainability assessment in terms of Carbon Footprint would respond to the recommendations on how to reduce that footprint.
Examples include extending the grazing season, improving weight gain and better fertility. All of these measures are beneficial to the bottom line for farmers but importantly also improve the carbon footprint of each kg of meat produced.
ICSA envisages that suckler and sheep farmers would have the option of an additional measure in their GLAS plan which would set out how they are implementing the recommendations on reducing the footprint. This is a key objective of the EU CAP reform and so should be readily welcomed by the EU Commission.
In terms of funding, ICSA estimates that an extra €50 million per annum for five years would be required (2016-2020 inclusive) or a total €250 million. “There is some leeway in the Department’s initial proposals on how to utilise the total RDP budget and we believe that this money should be put to use to support active suckler and sheep farmers, who maintain breeding stock. We would suggest that the scheme would require a minimum of one suckler cow per eligible ha or equivalent number of breeding ewes.”
“The reality is that suckler and sheep farmers are the backbone of our meat exports but they are also the sectors whose future is very much in doubt.
ICSA sheep chairman Paul Brady said: “We have seen sheep numbers fall over a long number of years and while the numbers have stabilised in the past two years, there is no room for complacency.”
ICSA suckler chairman Dermot Kelleher said: “It is very clear that the suckler sector is very unstable at the moment and is badly in need of an income boost.”
Patrick Kent concluded by saying, “it is also vital to recall that these two sectors have suffered the most from the loss of REPS and ICSA insists that more must be done to protect breeding sectors. ICSA also reiterates that it is totally opposed to farmers with organic nitrates output greater than 140kg/ha being prioritised under GLAS- instead we need to ensure that low income suckler and sheep producers are prioritised.”