Local Fine Gael councillor, Tom Farrell told Monday’s meeting of the Athlone Municipal District that suckler farmers are suffering financially and need additional supports in order to continue to operate.
Cllr Farrell raised a motion at the meeting calling for the council to write to the Minister for Agriculture to request additional supports for suckler cow farmers in the context of the Cap 2020 negotiations.
While suckler farmers underpin Ireland’s €2.5 billion beef exports, they generate average incomes below €13,000 each year and are fully dependent on CAP supports to maintain their livelihoods. However, the Government has, so far, refused to introduce a €200 payment per suckler cow to aid them.
Cllr Farrell described suckler farmers as “a crucial element of farming in Ireland”. He said more than 20,000 Irish suckler farmers recently called on European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, to recognise their importance to the sector in the country, demonstrating how many are struggling due to a lack of financial support.
Cllr John Dolan (FG ) said farmers are constantly having to delve into their own pockets to survive. He said many are disillusioned and see no future in suckler farming.
“People don’t see a future in it and they will get out of it,” he said. “I wouldn’t let my own son go into it. They are not crying wolf. They are in serious financial trouble.”
Cllr Paul Hogan (SF ) said he supported the reinstatement of the subsidy for suckler farmers, who he said have “lots of other hidden costs” to contend with.
It was determined that a letter will be sent to the Minister for Agriculture in support of the motion.