I recently announced the operational details of an investment package worth up to €40m to beef farmers in 2014. Among the measures in this investment package are €23m for a Beef Genomics Scheme, €10m for the Beef Data Programme, €5m for the Beef Technology Adoption Programme and €2m in residual payments under the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme. The Government’s investment is a strong vote of confidence in the beef sector. It exemplifies the smart, green growth initiatives envisioned in the Food Harvest 2020 strategy and, coupled with additional support measures under the new Rural Development Programme, will underpin the development of a sustainable beef sector with long-term growth potential.
In addition suckler farmers will benefit from the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which was agreed under the Irish Presidency last year. Under Pillar I suckler farmers will continue to receive an annual direct single farm payment and under Pillar II there will be a new Rural Development Programme (RDP). As yet no final decisions have yet been made on the measures to be included in the new Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020 but it will be a key support in enhancing the competitiveness of the agri-food sector, achieving more sustainable management of natural resources and ensuring a more balanced development of rural areas.
I recently published a consultation document on the new RDP, which sets out a range of proposed measures for inclusion. The main areas proposed for support for the beef sector are:
- a substantial new agri-environment/climate scheme (GLAS), which will build on the progress made under REPS and AEOS. This will provide for a maximum payment of €5,000 for up to 50,000 farmers, and a further payment of up to €2,000 for a limited number of farmers who take on particularly challenging actions,
- continued strong support for disadvantaged areas (now Areas of Natural Constraint), to the tune of about €195 million per year,
- incentives for on-farm capital investment,
- knowledge transfer and innovation measures, aimed at underpinning farm viability, sustainability and growth through the adoption of best practice and innovative solutions, including the beef sector,
- a beef data and genomics measure worth up to €52 million per year aimed at improving the genetic quality of the beef herd, and
- other supports aimed at collaborative farming, artisan producers, organic farming, etc.
Primary producers in the beef sector will be able to apply for any or all of these measures over the lifetime of the programme, as suits their particular enterprise, once the draft RDP has been approved. In keeping with the timelines agreed at EU level, it is intended to submit a draft of the new RDP to the European Commission in the second quarter of 2014. This draft will then form the basis for detailed discussions over a number of months with the European Commission.