IFA President Joe Healy said urgent changes are needed to the details of the €100m scheme proposed by Minister Creed yesterday. IFA set out six principles for the distribution of the fund and the scheme should fully reflect these.
IFA put these principles clearly to Minister Creed at the consultation meeting yesterday.
“The Minister must take feedback on board, make the necessary changes and then move to pay out the money as soon as possible. It is imperative that the scheme is designed in such a way that every single cent of €100m committed by the EU Commission and the Irish Government is paid out to farmers,” he said.
“The Minister has said the scheme will cover losses up to May 10th, but prices since then have continued to fall and are now on the floor. The Minister needs to put the Commission on notice that another fund will be needed to cover on-going losses,” he said.
As regards the details of the scheme, he said IFA has been consistent that funds should go to the farmers who suffered the losses. This is the basis for the six principles that were endorsed at eight regional meetings (see below).
“The scheme should be able to exclude factory feedlots, factory-owned cattle and dealers. If these can be excluded, then the per head and overall payment limits, particularly for cattle supplied post-Christmas, should be looked at for genuine beef finishers. Farmers who finished cattle in the reference period made a big investment buying cattle. They need to be able to clear their stocking loans and be back in the market for stores and weanlings in the autumn. The scale of losses experienced by some of these farmers is shocking,” he said.
“The exclusion of prime beef animals (steers, heifers and young bulls) from all mixed enterprise farms involving beef and dairy production is wrong, bearing in mind that farmers involved in other commodities or professions are eligible. These animals must be included for payment,” he said.
It is important that the scheme has a provision to take account of force majeure circumstances.
“The Minister should take the feedback on board and move quickly to settle the scheme and get the money out to farmers,” he said.
Six principles for distribution of €100m Beef Fund
- For beef farmers and must be paid to beef farmers. Not for factories, factory feedlots or factory-owned cattle, agents or dealers.
- Targeted to the farmers who incurred the losses and the sectors who need it most in terms of income.
- Farmers who sold prime finished cattle – steers, heifers, young bulls since last Autumn, and suckler farmers.
- Paid out quickly and directly to farmers.
- Finished cattle sold in the marts must be included.
- DAFM has all the data on the AIMs system to enable accurate targeting of the funds.