National Beef Association
For everyone with an interest in the British beef industry

Press Release - Attention by DARD to the 2014 - 2020 Farm Modernisation Scheme will make NI livestock farms less..........

17th April 2013

Region: Northern Ireland

The National Beef Association says the devastation to Northern Ireland’s livestock farms, triggered by just one unusually heavy snowstorm in late March, has spotlighted the long-term poverty of the sector’s production wherewithal and the overwhelming fragility of many of its on-farm structures.

And so it is calling on DARD’s tactical specialists to pay more attention to the opportunities for funding better production infrastructure that will exist within the post 2013, CAP funded, Farm Modernisation Programme (FMS) than they did during the span of the current FMS which began in 2007 and still remains largely invisible.

“There is something fundamentally wrong with the balance of beef sector resource when a simple snowstorm can undermine output on so many beef farms or endanger the well-being of so many housed cattle,” explained the NBA’s Northern Ireland chairman, Oisin Murnion.

“The Province is home to a billion pound a year beef industry but, to put it both mildly and politely, the trail of damage left in the wake of recent blizzards demonstrates conclusively just how urgently the outdated cattle accommodation that still features on so many farms needs to be raised to 21st century levels.”

“The weaknesses that resulted in buildings collapsing, animals being injured, and on-going problems with slurry run-off and disposal are the consequence of a decades long poverty gap between production costs and sales income.”

“Hopefully even stronger beef cattle prices will help to cure this but DARD can also play its part in re-constructing Northern Ireland’s valuable beef production resource by putting its weight behind a bigger, better funded, and more effective, FMP - and then by making sure that as many livestock farmers as possible are able to take advantage of it over the 2014-2020 period.”

The current FMP, which is funded under Axis One of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) is designed to improve both competitiveness and economic performance on Northern Ireland’s farms.

And the financial support it offers covers farm modernisation, investment in new plant and machinery, assistance with improved animal health and welfare, help with better hygiene control and product storage, as well as the achievement of improved occupational safety and business efficiency.

“The NBA wants DARD to put more focus on infrastructure improvement and give more assistance to farmers interested in using the FMS to improve their businesses so Northern Ireland’s beef production standards can quickly move up the scale and sit closer to those enjoyed in the same sector at processing and retail level,” said Mr Murnion.

“All farms that are recognized as Category One DARD businesses are able to apply and the Association thinks new sheds, better slurry storage, the installation of higher standard cattle handling facilities, and improved forage storing and feeding capability, should be among the priorities DARD looks for when it scans the applications.”

“The current situation, in which many sheds on cash-strapped farms have relied heavily on scrap metal and amazing farmer ingenuity, is no longer acceptable in an industry that is as important to Northern Ireland as its beef sector.”

“But an improved FMS will help beef production no longer look as much like the poor relation when its facilities are compared with those used by its processing and retailing partners.”

For more information contact:
Oisin Murnion, NBA Northern Ireland chairman.
Tel: 0773 963 2048