Emergency €50m support scheme for beef farmers

Farming lobby groups have welcomed confirmation by the Cabinet of an emergency €50m support scheme for beef farmers.
Emergency €50m support scheme for beef farmers

Farming lobby groups have welcomed confirmation by the Cabinet of an emergency €50m support scheme for beef farmers.

The scheme for beef finishers was announced by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar following a meeting of the Cabinet at Dublin Castle on Friday.

Mr Creed said the scheme is not open to suckler farmers but said the additional money will help all the industry. He said that more than €200m in new money has been made available specifically to beef farmers, on top of the €300m BDGP scheme, over the past two years.

Tim Cullinan, president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) welcomed the scheme: “The details of the scheme and the small print will be very important. IFA is set to meet with the Department of Agriculture next Monday to progress the scheme details further."

Mr Creed said the scheme will give support to beef farmers severely impacted by a fall in prices because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The scheme, however, is subject to State Aid rules approval, he said: "Our hope is to keep the scheme as simple as possible. I am aware of the concerns around the last scheme but that had the added complication of being co-funded from Europe. This scheme is entirely exchequer funded."

"It is exclusively for finishers but I see a scheme that is for finishers being beneficial to the entire beef sector because it gives finishers confidence to buy weanlings," Mr Creed added.

He says there is an additional scheme for suckler farmers: "We will talk to farmers about the terms and conditions but the reduction elements in the previous scheme was a condition imposed as it was co-funded from Europe."

“Farmers with finished animals have suffered a dual impact over recent months: reduced prices and a reduced kill. This support for the beef sector is an emergency response to a dramatic economic shock, to mitigate the worst COVID-19 economic impacts on these farm enterprises,” he said.

Mr Creed, a Cork North-West TD, said the Department of Agriculture will be engaging with stakeholders on its development.

Mr Creed said a meeting of the Beef Taskforce via video conference is planned for the end of June, with the distribution of the support likely to be high on the agenda: “This is part of my ongoing efforts to ensure that all the appropriate support measures are put in place at national and EU level for our farming communities.

"I urge all actors in the supply chain to recognise their interdependence and work collaboratively towards our shared objective — a beef sector which is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable."

The Taoiseach said the scheme has been approved and will be implemented: "It is separate from the Programme for Government talks so whether a new government is formed or not, this money will flow to farmers. It is not connected."

Mr Varadkar said he hopes the farming community will be "pleasantly surprised" by the contents of the new Programme when they open it. He said they are prioritising the rollout of the National Broadband Plan, more rural development funds and the development of the road network.

He also said there are plans aimed at giving farmers new streams of income into the future, which is part of the Government's plan to reduce carbon emissions by 7% a year.

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