Clarity sought on whether live export cattle included in €50 beef finisher scheme

Concern has been expressed on whether farmers who sold cattle to the live export trade will be included in the new beef finishers scheme.

€50m had been announced in June in recognition of the difficulties that beef finishers had endured due to the Brexit and COVID-19 disruption. Yesterday evening the newly appointed Minister for Agriculture Dara Calleary announced the scheme's criteria, with his department estimating that 42,000 farmers will be eligible to apply.

The scheme will be based on the number of cattle sent for slaughter in the period from February 1 to June 12 2020, subject to a limit of 100 animals per herd. Based on estimates of eligible animals, a rate in the region of €100 per animal will be payable.

That it expressly outlines that the cattle has been sent for slaughter has cast doubt on whether those who sold their cattle for the live export trade will be included.

“ICSA is not happy that live exported cattle do not seem to be mentioned and we will be seeking urgent clarification on this,” said beef chairman Edmund Graham.

Many of the particular details did however approval of Mr Graham.

“A provision is included which should have the effect of delivering money to farmers who sold animals in the mart and which were subsequently slaughtered within 30 days. We also are pleased that there is no de-stocking clause. However, farmers have to be either a member of the Quality Assurance Scheme or else committed to joining before 30 September. Factory owned animals are not eligible, again a key demand from ICSA.”

IFA President Tim Cullinan said it’s crucial that the money gets out to farmers as soon as possible and that the full €50m is spent. “There should be a provision to increase the payment per animal if there is any underspend,” he said.

His IFA colleague, National Livestock Chairman, Brendan Golden welcomed the news as “a significant boost for the Autumn cattle trade”.

The date for applications will run from August 19 to September 9, 2020.