Reacting to the exclusion of dairy farmers with herds in excess of 40 cows, the President of ICMSA said that the decision was “unjust, unfair and had set a disastrous precedent”.
Pat McCormack said that the exclusion would have long-term negative effects and could only be interpreted as the Government conceding to the ‘loudest voices’ as opposed to the ‘fairest argument’.
Mr McCormack said ICMSA profoundly condemned the decision and warned that dairy farmers unfairly shut out of a compensation scheme which they had every right to expect to share, would absolutely not forget this deliberate snub.
“We have been reasonable every step of the way on this question and ICMSA has very deliberately not indulged in the kind of farmer-against-farmer antics that we have seen from others.
«But we all know where we stand now: the net effect of this decision – however Minister Creed wants to justify it – is that full-time farmers will be shut out of the BEAM fund while part-time farmers – some of whom are professionals with significant off-farm incomes – are being included. That’s the bottom line here. And as far as we’re concerned it’s an unfair, unjust bottom line that sets a disastrous precedent”, said Mr McCormack.
IFA President Joe Healy said beef farmers are now in dire straits with the threat of a no-deal Brexit causing mayhem in the EU Beef market, which is now in crisis.
On the €100m scheme itself he said that while he welcomed the fact that animals controlled by factories were excluded, he was concerned that the limits and conditions put in place by Minister Creed could lead to an under spend of the fund.
IFA Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said, “The Minister has said that the payment rate to farmers might be cut if the scheme is over spent. We want a commitment from the Minister that if the money is underspent, that he will re-look at some of the limits and restrictions, or increase the payment rate. It would be a travesty if some this funding went unspent due to restrictions put in place by the Minister,” he said.
“The Minister could have paid this funding on all prime cattle (young bulls, steers and heifers) as set out in IFA’s six principles and ensured the fund was fully spent. We would be concerned that the way the scheme is now structured will result in the fund being underspent,” said Angus Woods.
ICSA president Edmond Phelan has welcomed clarification on the division of the €100m fund in Beef Exceptional Aid Measures, saying that the objective now must be to get the money to farmers promptly.
“The money must be distributed as quickly as possible. We are disappointed that EU funding rules say it can’t be paid until 16 October, but we see this as the latest acceptable date for funds to arrive in farmers’ accounts. The beef trade is deteriorating every week and this fund is only a drop in the ocean compared to the losses being sustained by farmers.”
Mr Phelan said he was disappointed that the upper limit for finishers has remained at 100 head of cattle.
“Losses for those who sold above that number during the timeframe will be significant. If however the scheme is undersubscribed, ICSA will be pushing to see that the maximum payment is increased accordingly.”