Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (1030)

Peadar Tóibín


1030. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will ensure that any financial aid to the beef sector does not have the outcome of reducing the price to the farmer (details supplied). [8659/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

As the Deputy will be aware, prices for beef and other commodities is a commercial matter which neither I, as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, nor my Department have any role in determining.

I am acutely aware of the issues presented to the beef sector and also those to the agri-food sector in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, particularly given its reliance on external trade and the food service and hospitality markets.

My officials and I have ongoing contact with all the key stakeholders across both the beef and dairy sectors. More than ever in the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, I am aware of this need for ongoing contact as the situation has evolved. My Department and I are working to ensure that business and services to farmers can continue, keeping food and other processing facilities operational, ensuring that payments and commercial activities that are necessary to protect farm incomes can continue.

Recently, I secure €85 million in Budget 2021 for specific supports for sustainable beef farming. This includes over €40 million for the extension of the BDGP during the transition period before the next CAP. This scheme is a significant support for participating farmers, as well as having delivered measurable improvements in the economic and environmental performance of the suckler herd as a whole. An optional extension will be offered to all those who have met the requirements of the scheme, and who commit to maintaining those requirements.

The remaining €45 million has been allocated for the Beef Sector Efficiency Pilot. This scheme will build on the success of the BEEP-S scheme this year, aiming to improve the weaning efficiency of suckler cows and calves by recording weights, and also optional animal health and welfare measures. This provides for a maximum payment per suckler cow/calf pair of €90 per head for the first 10 suckler cows, and €80 thereafter. The 2021 scheme will also contain €5 million for a new calf weighing measure to support beef farmers rearing dairy beef calves.

I have put in place a €6m fund over the next three years in order to develop and promote an Irish suckler beef proposition abroad. This is an exciting initiative that I hope will further support the sector.