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Beef Sector.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 11 March 2010

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Ceisteanna (88)

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

87 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will support the call by the ICMSA to give suckler discussion groups equal support to that awarded to dairy discussion groups. [12028/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

The Government is committed to working with the beef sector, including suckler farmers, to meet evolving market challenges and to provide a sound framework for the development of the sector. To this end a number of policy initiatives are being implemented. In terms of direct aid to suckler farmers, and notwithstanding the current constraints of the public finances, I am continuing to make provision for the Suckler Cow Animal Welfare and Breeding Scheme, which will involve the payment of up to €250 million directly to farmers in the period to 2013, and is intended to lead to an improvement in the quality of the Irish suckler herd through improved welfare and by improving the flow of genetic information to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF).

In addition my Department provides more than €2.5 million per annum to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation to enable beef farmers to avail of world class breed improvement information, and Teagasc is making a valuable contribution to improving efficiency, competitiveness and profitability on suckler farms through its work in this area. Furthermore, my Department will be completing its investment of more than €1 billion in farm waste infrastructure on Irish farms in 2011, and of course many of the 34,000 applicants receiving assistance under this scheme are suckler farmers. These measures are complemented by a range of other initiatives, including the Beef and Sheepmeat Capital Investment Scheme at processor level, the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme and other marketing and promotion strategies, all of which are designed to contribute to a more efficient and competitive industry, to promote high quality Irish beef in domestic and overseas markets, and ultimately to ensure a sustainable and profitable future for suckler farmers and others operating in the sector.

I am an admirer of the very valuable work carried out by discussion groups and indeed it is in the interests of all progressive farmers to participate in such groups and to share information and develop best practice models with their peers in the industry. With regard to further funding, my department is continuing its very significant investment in suckler farms and in the beef sector generally, and therefore for the present, and having regard to the exigencies of the public finances, I am not in a position to make additional funding available at this time.

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