Carol Nolan TD
Speaking on Wednesday night in Dáil Eireann Sinn Féin TD for Offaly Carol Nolan advocated for the re-introduction of a headage payment for Suckler Cow producers.
Speaking on the Fianna Fáil Private Members Bill, Deputy Nolan stated, “it is clear that beyond 2020, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) must include measures which allow for a degree of re-coupling which in essence, means the re-introduction of headage payments for sucklers.”
Deputy Nolan outlined the economic and political forces which are driving Suckler producers out of the sector. "Since the abolition of quotas, farmers can now earn a better return from Dairy farming and with UK buyers representing a significant share of red meat exports, the impact of Brexit holds many uncertainties."
"Whilst nationally there has been a 6% decline in herd size since the abolition of milk quotas, some counties have experienced proportionately greater losses and hardship than others. Marginal landowners with herds of 18 cows or less have been particularly badly hit as these farmers have no option for diversification into a more lucrative sector. "
"With average incomes to Sucker farmers calculated at less than €13,000 it is evident that there is a significant number of farmers caught in this trap. As an increasing number of farmers liquidate their stocks to finance a switch to dairy, there is grave concern that without intervention individuals farmers will be forced out of farming and the red meat sector will diminish," she added.
“It is clear” said Deputy Nolan, “that beyond 2020, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) must include measures which allow for a degree of re-coupling, which in essence, means the re-introduction of headage payments for sucklers.” What the Bill proposes is the phased introduction of a subsidy payment to up to €200 euro would be a subsidy in line with that which is currently paid to French farmers."
"Whether this exodus from the beef market and transition into Dairy is a short-term or long-term trend, remains to be seen. What is evident is that sustaining the sector at this time and alleviating the hardship on small producers is unattainable without a headage payment. Diversification into the dairy sector will favour those with financial resources for investment and the technical expertise for its execution."
"However, small producers, for whom this has been their stock in trade for many years and are barely earning a living, will not be positioned to harness such opportunities. This proposed subsidy will alleviate hardship on the producer and help consolidate the red meat export market."
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