ICSA has today set out a series of proposals to the Minister for Agriculture to provide substantial funding to active farmers in the beef, suckler, and sheep sectors to help them deliver win/win solutions on climate change. In a meeting with Minister McConalogue ICSA president Dermot Kelleher said that the achievement of climate targets is totally dependent on keeping farmers viable in the cattle and sheep sectors.
“Policies that involve getting farmers to quit or to substantially undermine the productivity of their farms is a road to nowhere. Land will have to be farmed and food will have to be produced and the question is how to do this with the correct balance between profit and sustainability,” he said.
“ICSA is adamant that means a resilient beef finishing sector as well as keeping our less intensive suckler and sheep sectors intact to the greatest extent possible.
For that reason, ICSA has proposed additional supports of €80 million for store and beef producers, €60 million for suckler producers and €50 million for the sheep sector, along with €50 million for red clover reseeding. In addition, money will be needed to offset methane reducing feed additives and overall, we see that costing €250 million per annum for the next seven years.
“This is the minimum package we want to see to support active farmers, and this must be at the centre of the climate targets. In practice it would include incentives for weighing on a regular basis; allocated to DNA tested animals only and a scheme to incentivise increased efficiency around suckler calving. A key point is that reducing calving interval and average first calving date must be realistic and based on marginal improvements across the board rather than any demand to calve at two years old. It is not a saleable proposition to tell farmers that they must switch from three-year-old to two-year-old calving. However, if every farmer calved a month earlier on average and eliminated passenger cows there would be significant economic and climate gains.
However, none of this will happen unless the Minister brings a positive package forward to bring profitability back into the suckler, beef and sheep sectors. Failure to do this will simply result in a continuing exodus to more intensive dairy farming.”
Continuing Mr Kelleher said, “No sector is being asked to do as much per capita as some 100,000 livestock farmers. Drystock farmers in particular stand ready and eager to adapt to our new climate realities but these are low-income sectors; they need significant financial support, and the Government has an obligation to provide that support.”
During the meeting Mr Kelleher insisted that all farmers who applied to the ACRES Scheme should be admitted to the scheme straight away. “No farmer who applied to participate in ACRES should be refused a place. It makes no sense whatsoever to excluding 16,000 farmers who are champing at the bit to get on with meeting our climate goals. It is also unjust that these farmers will be financially penalised as they will miss out on a payment that heretofore has been a part of their annual income.”