PARTICIPATION IN SUCKLER SCHEME MUST NOT BE LINKED TO MEMBERSHIP OF BORD BIA

‘Under no circumstances should membership of a domestic scheme, run by a domestic semi-state body, be tied to CAP supports’

Sligo News File

ICSA Suckler chairman Ger O’Brien has slammed the decision to make membership of Bord Bia’s Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS) mandatory for those wishing to participate in the proposed new Suckler Carbon Efficiency Scheme.

“ICSA is very clear that membership of any Bord Bia quality assurance scheme must remain a choice for individual farmers. Under no circumstances should membership of a domestic scheme, run by a domestic semi-state body, be tied to CAP supports,” he said.

“The majority of suckler farmers are not members of Bord Bia because it is of no benefit to them. The common practice is to sell cull cows and stores in the marts; they do not – for the most part – sell cattle to factories for slaughter, and therefore do not avail of any Bord Bia quality assurance bonuses.

“The requirement essentially creates a sanction for suckler farmers who don’t want to sign up to Bord Bia. We really must question the Department’s logic around this move; are they intentionally trying to create as many barriers as possible to prevent suckler farmers benefitting from the scheme?

“Suckler farmers are already facing reduced payments because of proposed changes to the scheme going forward. The scheme has also been made more complex. When added to the requirement to be a member of Bord Bia it looks very much like the Department are trying to discourage suckler farmers so much that they want to quit the business.”

Mr O’Brien said the minister made the correct call by removing membership of Bord Bia from the eligibility criteria for participation in the new Sheep Improvement Scheme. “Membership of Bord Bia should not be mandatory to participate in any scheme and I am urging the minister to remove this clause from the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme immediately.”