Sunday, August 25, 2013

Wexford Suckler Beef herd must be protected – O’ Súilleabháin

A local Sinn Féin representative is calling for investment in new grants for local suckler beef farmers.  Fionntán O’ Súilleabháin said that small farmers across the county had reached the breaking point after years of cuts and said that unless action was taken to stabilise the suckler beef sector, there would be a devastating knock on effect on the local economy.

“The vast majority of small family-run cattle enterprises in this county are suckler beef led,” Mr O’ Súilleabháin.  “They are the farms that get the least grants, the smallest gross income and often end up suffering most from adverse weather conditions.  They have been pushed to breaking point due to the harsh austerity cuts of recent budgets.  The total agriculture budget has been reduced by 41.2% since the recession began.  This is compared to a reduction of 12.6% for total spending across all Government departments.”

“The IFA recently released figures showing that budget cuts including the abolition of the suckler cow welfare scheme and cuts to the Disadvantage area and REPS schemes have cost suckler farm incomes about €130 per cow.  Add to this the huge financial strain of trying to buy in extra fodder at high prices due to the recent bad winters and the pressure of day to day cuts and stealth taxes under an austerity government and you realise that the whole suckler beef industry is in danger of utter collapse unless action is taken.”

“The Irish beef and livestock sector is worth €2.3 billion to our economy.  Farmers and farm families spend €8 billion per year in the local economy.  Any collapse in this sector will be felt right across Irish society.  It is crucial that correct investment in the form of new suckler herd grant is made now to grow this economically important sector and prevent any kind of a systematic failure.  50,000 non-farm jobs are already maintained through the success of the Irish cattle and sheep sectors.  With proper nurturing of these industries, a further 10,000 jobs can be created by 2020 according to experts.”

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