Creed rules out slaughter premium for suckler cows
AGRICULTURE Minister, Michael Creed, has rowed back from suggestions that an early slaughter premium could be employed to support suckler cow numbers.
Minister Creed intimated in media reports last week that the introduction of a slaughter premium for the beef sector might be considered.
The idea provoked a sharp response from the ICSA, who said slaughter premiums were simply a “subsidy to meat factories and consumers”.
However, by yesterday the minister appeared to abandon the notion of re-introducing such premiums.
He pointed out that the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) remained the main support specifically targeted for the suckler sector and that further funds were not available under Pillar I or Pillar II to fund further subventions.
“Any allocation of funding under Pillar I of the CAP for a coupled payment would in principle require a linear reduction to all existing farmers Basic Payment Scheme payments for redistribution,” Minister Creed explained.
“I am not of the view that taking already committed money from farmers under the CAP is an appropriate means by which to support suckler farmers,” he insisted.
The minister pointed out that BDGP will be worth €300m to suckler farmers by the end of the current rural development programme, and that overall supports were equivalent to approximately €500 per suckler cow.
He said the Department did not have the funds for a fully exchequer funded scheme, and that any such measure would need Commission approval. Meanwhile, ICSA president, Patrick Kent, dismissed the idea of re-introducing slaughter premiums.
“Slaughter premia have been tried before and all they do is give a subsidy to meat factories and consumers,” Mr Kent said.
“People forget that beef price during the coupled payments era was stuck at €2.50/kg. At the moment beef price is €4.20 for Rs and rising and under-16 month bulls are being bought on the grid so they can fetch over €4.40 for top U grades,” he pointed out. “I suspect that the meat industry is behind this as they are looking at scarcity, increased opportunities for exports to China and live exports. The meat industry would love a slice of farmers’ existing Pillar 1 payments as a means of keeping a lid on prices.”
Mr Kent said the re-introduction of slaughter premiums for young cattle would encourage intensive finishing with imported cereals. This would run counter to the promotion of Irish beef as a grass-fed product, he explained.