The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) have called on the Minister and his officials to redraft the proposed Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme which they maintain discriminates against suckler farmers.
Spokesperson Brendan Joyce, outlined how the INHFA had through the CAP consultative process sought direct support for the suckler sector through a coupled payment. This he stated “was included in our response to the Department of Agriculture Food & the Marine (DAFM) on both our SWOT and Needs Analysis. In subsequent discussions around this DAFM officials indicated to us that their intention was to support the suckler sector through a welfare type scheme in Pillar 2. Unfortunately, what they have now produced is anything but a welfare scheme.”
It is, continued Joyce “now time for the Minister to intervene to have the make-up and title of this scheme (Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme) altered to reflect what was agreed through the consultation process, that being a welfare programme similar to what is currently in place under BEEP but with higher payments.”
With the consultation process due to close on the 27th of this month it is, he maintained “vital that the redrafting of a new suckler scheme is done in the coming days to give the sector time to reflect and provide feedback on the make-up of any new scheme.”
Suckler farmers are he stressed “understandably annoyed at continued attempts to undermine the sector and scapegoat them on concerns around climate change with many also pointing to the BEAM Programme, that had at its core a 5% mandatory reduction requirement”
When assessing the challenges for the agri-food sector posed by climate change the INHFA Representative pointed to an EU Commission report from 2017 titled ‘Grazing for Carbon’. This report “outlines how extensive grazing systems as practiced by the majority of our suckler farmers are in fact sequestering carbon. This is something the Minister and his staff need to recognise and reward, rather than deny and penalise.”
In concluding Joyce reiterated the need to immediately scrap the current proposal and provide farmers with a scheme they can buy into adding that “the suckler sector is most definitely not the problem when it comes to addressing agriculture’s climate change concerns.”