Farmers to examine merits of €100m Brexit beef fund

Livestock farmers countrywide will discuss the €100 million Brexit beef fund at a series of eight regional meetings starting Tuesday.

The Irish Farmers Association has convened the meetings to update farmers on the details of the fund that was recently announced by the European Commission and the Government.

Joe Healy, president, said an IFA Council meeting in Dublin endorsed its Livestock Committee policy direction that the fund should be targeted at beef finishers of prime cattle (steers, heifers and young bulls) and suckler cow farmers.

It is essential that the package is targeted to the farmers who need it most. It must be paid without delay and there must be no strings attached, he said.

IFA Livestock Committee chairman Angus Woods said farmers who sold prime finished cattle since last September and suckler producers are the two groups hardest hit.

Under no circumstances can Agriculture Minister Michael Creed allow one cent to go to factory-owned cattle or factory feedlot cattle, he said.

Riverside Park Hotel Macroom (June 12) and South Court Hotel, Limerick (June 17) are the Munster regional meeting venues.

The first meeting will be in Claremorris (McWilliam Park Hotel) tomorrow night, followed by Newpark Hotel, Kilkenny (June 5), Tullamore Court Hotel (June 10), Nuremore Hotel, Carrickmacross (June 11), Abbey Hotel, Roscommon (June 14) and Clanree Hotel, Letterkenny (June 20) Meanwhile, Macra na Feirme’s new president Thomas Duffy said the fund goes some way to helping farmers deal with difficult situations.

How it is distributed to ensure the fairest and most widespread benefit to all family farms in the beef sector is the most important question.

“The past year has been an incredible difficult time for all farmers - from those struggling to recover from the drought to those suffering lower returns from the market, due in part to Brexit uncertainty”, he said Mr Duffy said young farmers starting out or entering family arrangements have been left even more exposed in the sector. A top up payment should be available to all young beef farmers under the age of 40.

Ensuring the survival of the sector by preventing the loss of young beef farmers is something which stretches far beyond Brexit, he said.

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