By Stephen Cadogan
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has ruled out additional schemes to support the suckler herd.
He said the current range of supports represents a balance between direct income support for the sector and rural development measures designed to improve its competitiveness and sustainability.
Direct payments and grant schemes providing income and investment support to the suckler sector include the BPS, ANC, GLAS and TAMS.
He said the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) is the main support specifically targeted for the suckler sector, providing €300 million in funding over the current seven-year Rural Development Programme period.
About 25,000 herds are in the BDGP, which was re-opened for new entrants last year.
Minister Creed was responding in the Dail to Michael Fitzmaurice, Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway, who asked about a €200 per cow suckler scheme.
The Minister replied, “Considering the supports that already exist, I do not have plans to introduce any additional schemes to support the suckler herd, including the proposed scheme mentioned by the Deputy.”
Responding in the Dail to a question from Independent Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae, the Minister said the suckler sector faces challenges, particularly exchange rate volatility and Brexit, but live exports which provide an alternative market outlet, including for suckler weanlings, increased by 47,000 head, or 33% in 2017 compared to 2016, and 2017 figures showed a positive trend for Irish beef exports compared to the same period in 2016.
“One of my priorities now is to further increase market access and market opportunities for Irish food and drink internationally.”
“By further increasing our footprint internationally, we can make a contribution to mitigating the effects of Brexit and develop our agri-food sector to realise its full potential.
n Minister Creed also revealed in the Dail that 131 of the 1,896 herdowners that applied to join the re-opened BDGP failed to complete the Carbon Navigator with an approved advisor.
Where the Carbon Navigator is not completed, applicants will be removed from the Programme, although applicants who feel they have grounds to appeal may do so in writing to the Department of Agriculture.
Completing a carbon navigator takes roughly 90 minutes, having made an appointment with an approved advisor, and thereafter providing data for an annual update to the carbon navigator.
The 2017-2022 BDGP provides for six years of payments to farmers for completion of actions which deliver accelerated genetic improvement in the Irish national herd and improvement of its environmental sustainability.