Upcoming budget must deliver for livestock farmers says INHFA

Micheal McDonnell National Vice-President of the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has called for improved support for sheep and suckler farmers who he stressed “continue to deal with increasing costs in very turbulent markets.”

For sheep farmers the last year has, he stated “been extraordinarily difficult for both finishers and those selling store lambs and as we move into October, the prospects of any major improvement this year seems quite remote.”

Across our beef sector we have he added “also seen major challenges and despite a recent increase in the price of weanlings there still remains a high level of uncertainty for suckler farmers.”

These McDonnell maintained are factors the Government must consider as they finalise details around the upcoming budget. Currently across our suckler and sheep sectors we have he stated “a number of schemes that are both underfunded and poorly targeted with a high percentage of the monies going to everyone bar the farmer.”

This he continued “has led to low uptake especially for farmers on smaller holdings, but critically, has also increased the level of disillusionment with farmers. For many of these farmers they see more and more demands being made from them but nothing to show for it in terms of financial reward.

Looking ahead it is stressed the INHFA leader “vital that we recognise that without farmers we don’t have an industry. They are the proverbial goose that is laying the golden egg, but if we continue to starve the goose then there will come a time when there won’t be any egg.”  

It is, stated McDonnell “time to look again at these schemes. We note how Minister McConalogue has detailed how any changes to the Sheep Improvement Scheme (SIS) will need to be amended in Brussels. Amendments have been made before so this shouldn’t prove to be a major issue. However, in making any amendments it is vital that we prioritise the needs of the farmers and recognise the value of their contribution. In doing this we must ensure that this recognition goes way beyond the monetary value currently being put on the various measures.”

For suckler farmers we have he continued “one scheme that is part of the CAP Programme (Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme) and similar to the SIS, amendments on payment rates and actions can and should be made. In making these amendments it is vital that the Minister and the Government puts the interest of farmers first through achievable measures and appropriate payment rates.”

Beyond CAP we have, he stated “a National Scheme for suckler farmers that can be changed without any recourse to Brussels. Here it is vital that the Minister and his officials move on this as soon as possible and deliver a scheme with payment rates that farmers will be encouraged to join.”

In conclusion McDonnell focused again on the sheep sector and detailed the need for a National Scheme to run alongside the SIS. In doing this we can he stated “provide the necessary supports for all sheep farmers as they continue to farm in very challenging times for the sector”