National Beef Association
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Press Release - NI's ailing suckler beef sector will contribute more to Provicial economy if maximum.....

6th March 2013

Region: Northern Ireland

NI’s ailing suckler beef sector will contribute more to Provincial economy if maximum 15 per cent SFP allocation is approved in Brussels.

The National Beef Association (NBA) in Northern Ireland wants the UK government to accept that suckler beef production in the Province will perish without more income support – and persuade other EU countries to acknowledge there are conditions under which 15 per cent of Single Farm Payment (SFP) should be distributed specifically to suckled calf breeders.
“Everyone knows that the suckler beef sector in NI is dying on its feet because neither retailers nor processors will pay farmers enough money to cover calf production costs,” explained the NBA’s Northern Ireland chairman, Oisin Murnion.
“They also know that without the beef these calves produce hundreds of millions of pounds would be stripped from the NI economy as a result of job and income loss throughout the red meat sector.”
“It is strange to think that loss making suckled calves create so much wealth and are the bedrock of large section of NI’s earnings but the NBA fears too few policy makers fully appreciate this phenomenon and it wants their help in establishing a financial safety net for farmers that will in turn secure future, much needed, beef sector income, for NI itself.”
“There is a tool available. Under current CAP rules up to five per cent of SFP allocated to Northern Ireland could be distributed specifically to troubled suckler beef farmers and a debate is now taking place on whether the maximum allocation should be raised to 15 per cent over the new 2014-2020 CAP period.”
“If a five per cent payment was negotiated on behalf of NI’s suckled calf breeders they would be given £55 per cow per year to help them make ends meet – but if a 15 per cent allocation was approved the payment would rise to £165 a head and NBA members would like tax payers and government officials to know that the latter figure most accurately represents the depth of loss they face on each of their cows every year.”

“This being the case the Association would like every section of NI’s Government to safeguard beef sector earnings in the Province by supporting a move to introduce a maximum 15 per cent re-coupled payment aimed specifically at preserving NI’s suckler cow numbers.”

“The Association has no doubt that without this support an important section of NI’s economy would shrink alarmingly. Unfortunately the UK’s current position is that a five per cent maximum would be sufficient.”

“However the NBA is hoping that DARD, and other Departments that have the wellbeing of NI’s economy in mind, will see how much more effective a 15 per cent maximum would be and that they will set out to persuade the UK government to back the move when it is debated again in Brussels later this year,” Mr Murnion added.

For more information contact:
Oisin Murnion, NBA Northern Ireland chairman.
Tel: 02841 765082