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Ray Doyle, Livestock & Environmental Services Executive

Any suggestion of Conditionality for potential Suckler Herd Reduction is Unacceptable and Completely Rejected.

The ICOS Marts Committee has formally set out its stall on the proposed compensation package for beef farmers.

ICOS wants the Minister to ensure that the scheme is implemented equitably to include provision for farmers who traded animals through livestock marts.

Nationally, all co-operative marts are collectively and cohesively agreed that the following policy should reasonably be adopted by the Minister for allocation of the €100 Million beef compensation fund:

  1. Beef processor owned feed lots to be excluded from any compensation.
  • The maximum compensation allowed is limited to 500 head of cattle over the reference period (October to April) or any extended period agreed by DAFM and the EU Commission.
  • To protect farmers who traded through the marts, ICOS is proposing a graduated system of compensation extending over a period of 10 weeks pre-slaughter.

If any animal was slaughtered within 2 weeks of purchase in a mart, then 100% of any compensation should be paid to the selling farmer.

After this period any funds should be graduated in weekly instalments to benefit both the seller and the buyer of animals traded in the marts. This will translate into a 12.5% increase for farmers who purchase animals in the mart (up to the maximum level of 10 weeks plus) when all potential compensation is received by the purchasing farmers.

  • All conditionality on a potential suckler herd reduction is completely rejected by ICOS marts.
  • The national suckler herd must also receive funding from this package to stabilise the sector as it provides an invaluable source of income and enterprise for rural Ireland. Any potential funds must be ‘per-calf’ produced from the entire national suckler herd.

Ray Doyle, Livestock and Environmental Services Executive of ICOS said, “While the package is being be provided through an implementing regulation from DG AGRI, it is up to the Department of Agriculture to decide how it is distributed. Our position represents a logical case.

“We are therefore asking the Minister to carefully take into account the nationally held view of all of our co-operative marts and of their farming members and to implement all our recommendations to protect the farmers who have been affected most.”

“Undoubtedly beef finishers have had a disastrous 2018 and 2019 but so too did sellers of weanlings, forward stores and cull cows.  It will not be acceptable that this compensation could be directed to a handful of factory agents if this scheme amounts to slaughter only assistance.

“With the Animal Identification and Movement system it will be possible to ascertain the ownership and trading history of animals before they have been presented for slaughter. While the funds are finite, their distribution must be fair to all producers in the beef chain.”

The compensation package is based on an analysis proving market disturbance. The analysis takes account of data gathered by the DAFM on three factors in the period between October 2018 – March 2019:

– Sterling depreciation

– Flat lining of producer prices despite a usual increase (with a data comparison done with the last two years) 

– Investment and market insecurity in the sector