Recent media reports that outline how the suckler sector will need to reduced further in order to meet our Climate Change targets has angered a lot of suckler farmers especially as other sectors of agriculture continue to expand.
This anger has also been clearly expressed by members of our National Council to Minister McConalogue and his staff and assurances have been given that there is no agenda to undermine or further reduce the suckler herd. However, time will tell on this.
With regard to ongoing supports the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP) will not deliver for the vast majority of suckler farmers which will put additional pressure on the new Suckler Beef Scheme that will succeed BEEP. This point has been made to the Minister and in discussion with him on our Budget submission, we have pushed hard for achievable measures and the option to increase support beyond the €60/cow and a front-loaded
payment on the first 10 cows. We have also insisted that the Bord Bia requirement under SCEP must not feature here and that there is an adequate budget to accommodate all interested farmers.
Finally, in relation to the suckler sector slow progress is being made around the marketing of Naturally Reared Suckler Beef with potential European markets identified. The concept for a
suckler brand and the funding (€6m marketing budget) was delivered by the INHFA in 2019 There is we believe massive growth potential due to the combination of sustainable environmental practices and favourable welfare practices that keeps the calf with its mother. As suckler farmers have been instrumental in helping to develop this brand we are working to ensure the benefits from any suckler branding is available to all suckler farmers.
INHFA Proposal for Targeted Suckler Welfare Scheme
We are seeking a new Scheme that will be more suitable to our farmers. We have written to the Minister and had several meetings surrounding our proposals. We will continue to lobby for change to the new scheme as there are many issues.
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In April, we attended an Oireachtas hearing on the disparity in the price of fertilizer. While the price of fertilizer had seen some price increases up to early 2020, the major pressure came initially from Summer 2020 to the end of 2021. During this time the price almost doubled. However, following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 we saw yet another massive increase in price that in 2022 saw a 123% increase from 2021 prices (based on CSO figures). All of this put enormous pressure on farmers as price and supply became a major issue in Spring of 2022.
Beef and Sheep Group
The INHFA also sat on the Food Vision Beef and Sheep Group and 3 members of INHFA attended those meetings. This was a group set up by the Minister to look at various ways Farmers could reduce Methane levels and help towards Climate change. There was meetings over the Summer and into November and there was serious issues within the report that we as an Organisation could not support namely the following
- Measure 8,9 – Diversification / Extensification proposal (Reduction/Exit Scheme sucklers)
- Measure 2 – Reducing the age of calving down to 24 months
- Measure 1 – Reducing the age of slaughter to 24 months
The INHFA had serious issues with those measures and we made those issues known within the forum and also by written submissions on numerous occasions. There was no movement on this in the interim report and at this stage we had to call an emergency national council for direction and national council decided on 16th November that it was best we not have our names associated with a report that would infringe on our members’ farming practices and we left the process. After we made this move the Minister decided that there would be no compulsory exit scheme for the suckler sector.