ICSA president Dermot Kelleher has today insisted that further supports must be directed towards the vulnerable beef, suckler, and sheep sectors in a meeting with Minister McConalogue and senior Department of Agriculture officials. “These lower income sectors are being crucified; the CAP Strategic Plan is not delivering for active cattle and sheep farmers, and now spiralling input costs are continuing to inflict further devastating blows. It is a perfect storm, and the minister must act now to deliver more supports from exchequer funds and target them directly at the vulnerable beef, suckler, and sheep sectors,” he said.
Continuing, Mr Kelleher said, “The minister was wrong in failing to allocate a greater proportion of CAP funds to the low-income beef, suckler and sheep sectors. There was no justification then – and there is no justification now – for ignoring the fact that these sectors are earning 10-15 times less than their counterparts involved in dairying. Targeted supports are now necessary to alleviate the shortcomings of the CAP plan for cattle and sheep sectors, and to mitigate the crippling burden of inflation on these sectors.”
Mr Kelleher also reiterated the association’s call for a €2,000 fertiliser voucher insisting that while the €1,000 silage package for cattle and sheep farmers is welcome, it simply does not go far enough. “ICSA again recommended that a voucher be made available to farmers who can show their farming enterprises required the purchase of fertiliser in 2021. Vouchers should be payable at a rate of 50% of the total fertiliser bill for 2021 – to a maximum of €2,000.”
Mr Kelleher was accompanied by senior ICSA officials including Beef chair Edmund Graham, Suckler chair Jimmy Cosgrave, Sheep chair Sean McNamara, Rural Development chair Tim Farrell and ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch. The in-person meeting took place this afternoon at Agriculture House, Dublin.
ICSA Suckler chair Jimmy Cosgrave outlined a proposal for an exchequer funded suckler animal welfare scheme that could deliver €80-100/cow which, when added to CAP suckler payments, could deliver a €250/hd total suckler payment. A key element would be to myostatin test all cows and heifers in the herd with a view to matching cows to bulls in order to minimise calving difficulties. The scheme would also tackle lameness issues.
ICSA Rural Development chair Tim Farrell said that the government will have to deliver separate funding for farmers affected by designations. “The CAP cannot be expected to do everything. The EU must be told that the level of ambition in the EU Biodiversity Strategy must be matched by equally ambitious extra funding outside of the CAP.”
ICSA also called on the government to investigate why the price of diesel has remained so high despite the barrel of oil dropping 20% in recent weeks.