Liam Gilligan, Chairperson, Leitrim IFA Livestock Committee, said the maintenance of the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme (SCWS) in 2013 and beyond will be a key test of Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney’s commitment to beef and suckler farmers. He said the Scheme is vital to suckler farmers and particularly the beef sector’s ability to service and grow high quality retail market outlets in line with the Food Harvest 2020 targets.
Mr Gilligan called on Minister Coveney to close off any uncertainty over the scheme and to confirm its future continuation. He said recent non-committal comments over the scheme were unhelpful.
The Leitrim IFA Livestock committee chairperson said there can be no more cuts to farm schemes and Minister Coveney would have to look elsewhere for savings.
“The recent Value for Money review of the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme undertaken by Minister Coveney’s own Department recognised the major contribution of the scheme and most importantly recommended its future continuation,” he pointed out. The report concludes ‘the animal welfare measures have contributed to improved prices and improved reputation of Irish beef and live exports in key markets’.
The County Livestock Chairman said there are over 35,000 suckler farmers involved in the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme. “Most of the difficult bureaucracy and administration problems have now been resolved and the scheme is operating much smoother. The Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme is absolutely essential in terms of securing the data to drive future genetic improvement in the Irish beef and livestock sector.”