14th February, 2012
ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin has welcomed the announcement of the Beef Discussion Group scheme payment by Minister Coveney last night (Monday 13th February) as an innovative scheme, which will pay a huge dividend to the state through increased technical efficiency and greater output on cattle farms. Mr Gilmartin said that he had been a strong advocate of payment for participation in discussion groups by the drystock sector and he had made it a key issue at the Food Harvest 2020 discussions.
He said that the menu approach was the correct one where farmers would have a choice of measures to implement. “Given that the funding available is €5 million, which will allow for €1,000 payments to 5,000 farmers we have to ensure that we get the money to the most committed and progressive farmers. When resources are scarce, it makes sense to target those who want to help themselves and who are trying to make progress. On the other hand, the range of options means that there is no real barrier to participation by committed farmers who are intent on improving their efficiency levels and learning from the discussion group process.”
“This is a real value for money scheme for the state and it is critical that funding is made available for the next three years. In the longer term, it is obvious that a scheme like this will be very well placed to qualify for Pillar 2 funding under the CAP reform proposals.”
Mr Gilmartin welcomed the fact that the scheme would be open to private agricultural advisors as well as Teagasc consultants.
He was particularly pleased that there is considerable emphasis on better breeding and better grassland, two areas where there is major scope for improvement on suckler farms.