The fund was proposed following an appeal from the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) over challenges facing the Irish beef and veal sector, due to market uncertainty and an unprecedented and sustained period of low prices. This exceptional measure, provided under the Common Market Organisation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), will offer support to the Irish farmers affected.
The IFA estimated that margins have dropped by as much as 19% in the past year for the beef and veal sector, costing Irish farmers more than €100m.
Agriculture and rural development commissioner Phil Hogan said: “This fund is a recognition by the European Commission of the particular difficulties experienced by Irish beef farmers arising from significant prices falls and market uncertainty. The money made available by the EU, which may be matched by the Irish Government, will protect a fragile but essential agricultural sector. Moreover, it will provide direct support to hard-hit farmers and will ensure the long-term viability of the Irish beef sector. The Commission will continue to monitor closely the overall market situation.”
Once formally adopted by the Commission in July, the Irish authorities will have until the end of that month to design the criteria within a set framework for granting the aid. The EU Commission advised that the Irish authorities must avoid distortion of competition when distributing it and suggested that one of the key objectives should be to ensure the beef and veal sector’s long-term viability through, for example, the development of new markets, the implementation of quality schemes, or the improvement of farmers’ environmental sustainability.
IFA president Joe Healy said the Irish Government must ensure the funding was paid out to the farmers who had incurred the losses and needed it most, as soon as possible.
“IFA is clear that the funding must go to farmers who sold prime finished cattle since last autumn, and to suckler farmers,” he said. “We have set out six principles as regards how the funding should be allocated.”
The six principles on the €100m Brexit Beef Fund are:
- The fund is for beef farmers and must be paid to beef farmers. It is not for factories, factory feedlots or factory-owned cattle, agents or dealers.
- The fund should be targeted to farmers who incurred the losses and the sectors who need it most in terms of income.
- The money should be targeted to farmers who sold prime finished cattle since last autumn and suckler farmers. Prime cattle are steers, heifers and young bulls.
- The fund must be 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.