New Suckler scheme is a major disappointment says INHFA

The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association have expressed major disappointment with the new announced National Beef Welfare Scheme. Speaking on this National Vice-President Micheal McDonnell called on the Minister and his officials to review the scheme stating that “there needs to be an increase in the overall payment rate and a full review around the IBR testing requirement.”

This scheme, continued McDonnell “was eagerly anticipated by suckler farmers, especially those that didn’t join SCEP. While it is positive that there are no impediments to joining as there is with the Bord Bia requirement under SCEP, the reality is that for the vast majority of suckler farmers there is no great incentive to join.”

“In our proposals around this scheme we pointed to the need for a front-loaded payment on the first 10 cows and the need for practical measures and payment rates that would encourage participation” said McDonnell. Unfortunately, the €50/cow payment rate is he added “well short of what is required and while some may argue that there is a front-loaded payment on the first 20 cows, most of the financial benefit will be off-set through the IBR testing requirement.”

As this is a National Scheme not subject to CAP Regulation there is the INHFA Leader maintained “an opportunity to review the payment rates and the scheme make-up. There needs to be a higher payment rate for the mandatory meal requirement. In addition to this, there may be an opportunity to justify an environmental and animal welfare payment in recognition of the benefits from our extensive naturally reared suckler systems. With regard to the IBR testing it should only operate as a percentage of a farmer’s overall herd or should be considered as a voluntary add-on, which would avoid the need for penalties as is currently the case.”

In concluding McDonnell called on the Minister and his Department officials “to review the scheme with a view to delivering at least twice the current payment rates with less onerous requirements around the IBR testing.”