Clare T.D. and Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade Pat Breen has said that Budget 2014 will protect the incomes of family farms, support small farm holdings in disadvantaged areas and invest in the future of the national suckler cow herd.
In the run up to this year’s I met with a number of farming representatives and I was very anxious to see extra funding provided for the suckler cow scheme and I am very pleased that the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has responded positively to the case put forward by providing an additional €23 million extra funding in Budget 2014 for this Scheme.
The output from the cattle and sheep sectors, on average over the past five years is valued at €1.9 bn which represents a third of all output from agriculture and here in Clare we have in the region of 75,687 beef cows in the County and the beef sector is very important. It has been a very difficult 18 months for farmers particularly given the prolonged fodder crisis. Cash flow has become a critical issue, particularly those on low incomes and many farmers rely on the various farm payments to subsidise the running costs of the farm which often constitute an amount greater than the net farm income.
“The €23 million increase in the suckler cow scheme is a clear recognition of importance the Government places in the beef sector. This will be allocated towards the Beef Genomics Scheme and is a wise investment in the future of our national herd, which will benefit farmers in the short and long term.
“The Beef Genomics Scheme will provide suckler farmers with a payment of €40 per calf in return for which the farmer will be required to take samples from stock bulls and a selection of suckler cows for genotyping. This will help to accelerate the kind of genetic improvement that will drive efficiency and increase profitability at farm level. Together with the Beef Data Programme, this will provide for payments of up to €60 per calf in the suckler herd.
“The suckler herd is the cornerstone of our beef industry which more than 100,000 farm families contribute to. The beef sector is responsible for employing almost 8,000 people in processing, sales and marketing, and driving exports valued at approximately €1.8 billion per annum.
“I am delighted that the current level of payments under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme has been maintained at €195 million despite the budgetary pressures that exist. The fact that the Grassland Sheep Scheme has been increased to €15 million makes it a good budget for farmers in disadvantaged areas.
“This Government is determined to further develop the agri-food sector which is one of the shining lights of the Irish economy. Budget 2014 will help to further contribute to the future growth and prosperity of the sector and will be welcomed by farmer families throughout the country.”