Straight Red card for Big Phil

The President of the Irish Natura & Hill farmers Association (INHFA) has called on Commissioner Phil Hogan to take the walk of shame over his meddling with the future sustainability of Ireland’s suckler farmers. The Commissioner he maintains is completely off side with his comment regarding “the farmer in Roscommon with 10 suckler cows that isn’t making a lot, being incentivised to cull his cows in favour of trees or biomass.

Now it all makes sense stated O’Donnell “Big Phil was setting the scene for the €100 million Brexit fund for market disturbance announced prior to the election. It now appears there could be conditionality attached to this funding that includes a reduction clause or restructuring for the beef sector.”

“Having viewed where the Commission and Member States can co-finance an exceptional market support measure for beef or veal, then it must be related to health and veterinary measures adopted to combat the spread of disease” stated O’Donnell. This he added “is clearly not the case which would suggest that there may be more going on here than meets the eye. Is this a cynical ploy by the Commissioner, our Government and others to clear the way for the continued dairy expansion at the expense of our suckler sector. This is a concern Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has also expressed.”

In addition to this he continued “any reduction requirement for suckler farmers in the BDGP would clearly be problematic and run at variance with this scheme. There is also the issue for commonage farmers in a GLAS plan where there is a minimum stock requirement that is often met by suckler cows, weanlings and store cattle. And for many other farmers on a low stocking rate that is sometimes prescribed, then a forced reduction could see them fall below the ANC stocking density threshold.”

Concluding O’Donnell called for full transparency in relation to all documentation and correspondence on this Brexit support fund. He also pointed to EU regulations ” Where urgency procedures are necessary in order to support farmers experiencing the threat of market disturbance or where it is occurring, stating “that as we understand it there is no legal requirement for a reduction in suckler numbers to comply with this regulation.