Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice has vocally criticised access conditions to the €100 beef aid fund which he said would harm Irish farmers and communities.
The beef aid fund would reportedly include clauses requiring a reduction in production or restructuring of the beef and veal sector before aid could be distributed to farmers.
The Independent TD said that this €100 million fund was initially billed as “a support package for beef and suckler farmers who have had to endure months of poor prices and who are still faced with the prospect of Brexit”.
But he added that details which have emerged since then are a “kick in the teeth to suckler farmers.”
“Various stories have been floating around since the fund was agreed upon in principle around a table in Brussels. Now there is a draft document circulating behind the scenes as well.”
“With all of these cloak and dagger tactics, one would have to wonder what other details are being hidden from farmers?
“How long has the minister or officials in his department been aware of the ‘production reduction’ clause?”
“Farmers could be forgiven for thinking that the minister, the department and Commissioner Hogan are collaborating to try and finish off the suckler sector in Ireland.”
The €100 million fund will be sourced 50/50 from the EU and the Irish government.
It will also include requirements that Ireland implement quality schemes in the beef and veal sector, boost market diversification, or improve on farmers’ environmental, climate and economic sustainability.
The IFA is holding meetings with farmers around Ireland to gather their views on the proposed fund.
Michael Fitzmaurice was highly critical of what he called “bully boy tactics” from EU which he said could lead to the production reduction clause being forced through.
He added that if a compromise could not be reached, then Ireland should be prepared to walk away from the entire deal.
“In my opinion, if the commission isn’t willing to back down on the clause in the beef aid fund requiring Ireland to reduce production or restructure the beef and veal sector, we should tell them to stick the €50 million where the sun doesn’t shine.”
“We should try and source the funds internally, rather than turn to Europe,” he said.
“Just because half of this €100 million fund is set to come from Europe, we do not have to roll-over and do what we are told.”
He warned that there are over 34,000 farms involved in suckler farming across Connacht, as well as counties Donegal, Clare and Kerry.
If they are not properly supported he said, local businesses and communities will vanish.