December 14, 2023
Minister’s hands-off approach to beef index changes ‘unacceptable’ – Claire Kerrane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Agriculture Claire Kerrane TD has described the Minister for Agriculture’s hand’s off approach to the impact of changes to the beef index as ‘unacceptable.’
 
Speaking having raised the issue with the Minister during Priority Questions this morning, Teachta Kerrane said:
 
“The changes made by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) to the beef index and the obvious consequences for Suckler Farmers, Breeders and for those signed up to the SCEP Scheme is something that should be of concern to the Minister.
 
“The ICBF came before the Agriculture Committee yesterday and while they acknowledged the consequences of their actions and heard unanimous concern from all Committee Members, they were clear that they will not consider a pause to the new index. That is why it is now for the Minister to intervene.
 
“These changes came about without consultation with Suckler Farmers and Breeders. This was a mistake and a prime example of how not to bring Farmers with you.
 
“Minister McConalogue also repeatedly said this morning that Farmers will be better informed on what breeds to buy going forward as if a Farmer can just go out and buy a five star bull in the morning, no reference to their financial loss when the bull they previously bought in line with ICBF advice is now worth so much less. Of course, there is also no guarantee that the index won’t change again so what confidence can Farmers have?
 
“While the Minister confirmed he is looking at the SCEP Scheme and that his team are engaging with the ICBF on the index changes, this is not enough.
 
“I believe my request to pause the index changes to allow space for consultation, as should have been done in the first place, is a reasonable one and I am disappointed that the Minister has instead, chosen to take a hands off approach, despite the impact on Farmers and Breeders who’ve had the rug pulled from under them overnight with devastating consequences.
 
“This issue is not going away and the Minister should re-consider his position on this and act in support of Farmers and Breeders.
 
“We also need to clarity on what the Minister is looking at as regards the SCEP Scheme. Farmers who signed up to this Scheme in good faith need to be supported.”

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