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Jul 24, 2020 | Latest News, Press Releases | 0 comments

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24 JULY 2020

ICSA president Edmond Phelan has set out a comprehensive agenda for the cattle and sheep sectors in his first meeting with Minister Dara Calleary this morning. “Key ICSA demands include a regulator to permanently oversee the beef chain, a Sheep Taskforce to find solutions to low wool prices and provide accountability on lamb imports, PGI status exclusively for sucklers and a commitment to a REPS scheme with treble the funding of the current GLAS.”

“Our presentation to the Minister was very focused on the difficulties faced by cattle and sheep farmers. In particular, ICSA wants to ensure that our demand for a regulator for the beef food chain is delivered. ICSA first proposed this in 2014 and then brought it to Europe when we outlined the injustices of the food chain to Commissioner Hogan who undertook to do something about unfair trading practices. It is now time to turn this vision into reality and establish a regulator with real power to audit and investigate what goes on in the food chain. Robust and effective regulation is long overdue.”   

“While ICSA outlined the unsustainability of current beef prices, we made a strong case for the €50 million beef finisher fund to be targeted at winter beef finishers who have been hardest hit by poor prices. ICSA believes that payment should be on up to 200 animals for family farms but that factory owned feedlots should get nothing.”

With the announcement of a reduced CAP budget this week, ICSA sought a commitment from Minister Calleary to push for additional exchequer funds for the farming sector. “This is crucial if we are serious about playing our part in the new EU Biodiversity and Farm to Fork strategies, of which a new REPS type scheme would form a vital part. ICSA has calculated that an annual budget of €750m, or three times the current GLAS budget, is the minimum required if we are sincere about getting real results and rewarding farmers for their role.” 

“Minister Calleary must also ensure the continuation of the Organics Scheme as a matter of urgency. The EU wide target of 25% (in terms of the area farmed) to be set aside for organic farming by 2030 makes it clear we need to do so much more when it comes to organics.” 

Further, ICSA outlined the need to pursue a dedicated EU Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for suckler beef. “ICSA is adamant suckler beef must be developed and promoted as a unique high value product. We believe the current position of looking for PGI status for all beef is the wrong approach as it would do nothing to ensure the viability of the struggling suckler sector.” 

ICSA also called on the Minister to establish a Sheep Taskforce with a remit to tackle all ongoing issues in the sheep sector. “It is clear the sector has greater potential, but that potential is being wasted through the lack of any specific Covid support for sheep farmers, inadequate supports through the Sheep Welfare Scheme, the lack of transparency around large volumes of sheep imports as well as the complete collapse of wool prices. It is time for Minister Calleary to bring all relevant stakeholders together to take on these challenges and see to it that there is a future for sheep farming in this country.” 


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