The Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed must take decisive action to address the severe income difficulties on livestock farms this year, IFA president Joe Healy said at 's Tullamore Show.
“The beef and sheep sectors are the heartbeat of rural Ireland, involving over 100,000 farmers and generating economic activity in every single parish across the country,” said Mr Healy.
Cattle prices are back an average of 40c/kg or €145 per head on this time last year, and this was having a severe income hit on farmers selling finished cattle off grass and also weanling and store producers selling at the marts.
“Minister Creed must deliver real access to new markets and strong competition in the trade in order to return viable prices to farmers,” he said.
Mr Healy said practical measures were required to respond to the challenge of Brexit. With additional cattle numbers in the country, he called on the Government to commit additional resources, in terms of manpower and funds, to secure greater market access for beef and live cattle and that “no effort can be spared to get the vitally important trade to Turkey moving as soon as possible”.
In Budget 2017, Mr Healy said IFA was demanding an increase in support for the national suckler herd, which forms the basis of Ireland's 500,000t of quality beef exports.
He said Minister Creed should immediately reopen the Beef Data and Genomics Scheme to farmers and provide an additional €25m in the Budget to increase payments to suckler farmers.
For sheep farmers, Joe Healy said IFA has secured €25m in the programme for Government for a new €10 per ewe sheep scheme. He said it is essential this scheme is finalised quickly with the EU Commission and progressed in order that farmers can apply and be guaranteed payment in 2017.