In their meeting with Ministers McConologue and Hackett the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers outlined the need for the ongoing development of our suckler and sheep sectors which are critical assets throughout rural Ireland.
After what was a very positive meeting National President Colm O’Donnell outlined how the points made by the INHFA delegation were well received by the Ministers who he maintains “understand the vital role of these sectors both inside and outside agriculture.”
With regard to our suckler sector O’Donnell stressed the need for a marketing campaign to highlight and develop the suckler beef brand. This he maintains will require “the rebranding of our naturally reared suckler beef to recognise the unique farming system that prioritises high animal welfare over quantity, an animal reared in nature by their mother and produced with a low or carbon neutral footprint. In our budget proposals we detail the need for €4m to be made available to Bord Bia to develop a naturally reared beef brand.”
In acknowledging how the development of a new brand and markets for it will take time the INHFA President outlined the need for direct support to be available for this sector. In our budget proposals we have continued O’Donnell “sought the delivery of a suckler cow scheme similar to BEEP 2 that pays €200 on the first 10 cows with a digressive payment on the remainder. Payment will be based on farmers completing specific tasks similar to the current BEEP. The budget required will be €160m which is an increase of €73m on this year’s supports which are currently delivered through BEEP (€35m) and BDGP (€52m).”
Through discussion on our sheep sector the INHFA team outlined the need for a roll-over of the sheep welfare scheme with an increased budget capable of paying €20 on every ewe. This scheme has stated O’Donnell “been very popular with farmers and provided much needed support to farmers when lamb prices didn’t match their expectation or needs.”
In seeking to address the collapse of the woollen market the INHFA through their budget proposal are calling on the State for an intervention model to deal with the backlog of wool.
Moving forward we must stated the INHFA leader “ensure that farmers have market options with regard to wool which is why we need to develop a woollen industry here in Ireland. Currently the INHFA are looking at various options such as the pelleting of wool for fertilizer and use as a slug repellent, its use in insulation and as a material that can be used in the building of roads and walkways. For more refined use we will require a scouring plant in order to clean the wool but this will add to the options available and provide us with a natural option to the synthetic fibres that currently dominates”
In concluding O’Donnell outlined how our budget proposals also included the need for a feasibility study to explore all options relating to adding value to wool. This he stated “was well received by both Ministers and Department staff and we anticipate further engagement on it.”