The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association have expressed disappointment with the budget which fails to deliver for the smaller suckler farmer and our hill sheep sector. National President Colm O’Donnell expressed disappointment at the lack of support for these two sectors and stated “how the Government through the beef discussions committed to supporting our suckler sector which is in a crisis.”

While the organisation has no problem with the decision to continue with the BEEP, there is, continued O’Donnell “the need to recognise that many small scale suckler farmers have not got into this scheme as they see no value in it. However a welfare based scheme as outlined in the INHFA Beef Cow/Calf Health Plan paying €200 on the first ten cows is a proposal popular with these farmers which is why we are bitterly disappointed that the Minister didn’t at least move some way on this option.”

For our hill sheep farmers who continue to be the lowest performing sector there was an opportunity to use some of the unspent funds in the sheep welfare scheme and make a top-up payment. Sadly added O’Donnell “this opportunity has once again being missed as too was our proposal to pay for the cost of EID tagging from these unspent funds.”

In relation to the emergency fund available to farmers in the event of a no deal Brexit the farm leader expressed reservations that the fund in this eventuality, will be enough.
He concluded by emphasising how for many farmers Brexit is already impacting as regards the price the farmer is getting at the factory gate for his beef and lambs, which he stated “is why immediate support is needed not a vague promise of support in the future, which for some will be to late.”