A motion calling for a €200/cow suckler payment received cross-party support in the Dáil on Wednesday and was accepted by the Government.
The move is Government recognition of the need to support Ireland’s suckler farmers and an endorsement of the Save Our Sucklers campaign, spearheaded by the Irish Farmers Journal.
The motion, which was tabled by Fianna Fáil’s agriculture spokesperson Charlie McConalogue, called on the Government to work towards introducing a €200 payment per suckler cow via the current BDGP and secure additional funding in the next CAP programme to achieve a suckler cow support payment of €200 per cow.
It also called for Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to review the current Rural Development Programme for any underspend and target that underspend at the suckler and other vulnerable sectors. Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, McConalogue welcomed the strong cross-party support and said the key thing now was to see follow through from the Government on the will of the Dáil. “In the event of Europe forcing a Mercosur deal, funding should be given to the Irish beef sector,” he said, adding that he was opposed to beef being part of the Mercosur deal.
Seriousness of the issue
In response to all of the statements on the Dáil floor on Wednesday night, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed thanked McConalogue for bringing the motion before the house.
“It is indicative of the seriousness of the issue. In the context of the challenges that we face from Brexit to Mercosur to CAP, I think the motion touches on all of those issues.
“I am committed to ensuring that suckler farmers continue to receive strong support in the next CAP post-2020, however I am strongly of the view that any such payments should not merely be supports for the sake of supports.
“Suckler farmers must be supported and encouraged to make the best decisions possible to improve profitability and the economic and environmental efficiency of their farming system.”
On funding such a €200/cow suckler payment, however, the minister said that it simply wasn’t an option because of WTO and state-aid rules to have that funded from the Exchequer.
Save Our Sucklers campaign
More than 30,000 farmers have so far joined the Save Our Sucklers campaign by signing an open letter to European Commission President Juncker, Commissioners Hogan and Malmström, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister Michael Creed, calling on them to recognise the important role that suckler farmers play in maintaining a vibrant rural Ireland.