Farm Secretary Charlie McConalogue did little to allay concerns that funding for farmers on the first day of the National Plowing Championships could be squeezed in next week’s budget.
Despite the minister’s days-long presence at the event in Ratheniska, Co. Laois, he remained withdrawn when asked whether farmers should be concerned about the reintroduction of several key schemes, including the €40 million beef for human milk environmental efficiency scheme ( BEEP-S ) next year.
It comes amid reports of “tough talks” between ministries of agriculture, finance and public spending and reform, as the cost of living crisis continues to put pressure on budget priorities across sectors.
Farmers’ officials fear the government’s plans to help families with rising energy bills could face cuts in funding for key farmer support services.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Minister McConalogue said BEEP-S, the Tillage Incentive Scheme and the Fodder Support Scheme remain “big priorities” in his budget commitments with Treasury Secretary Paschal Donohoe and Public Expenditure Secretary Michael McGrath.
“How we support families over the next year is very important to these considerations, we haven’t finalized the budget yet and that depends a lot on the mix. . . The negotiations will be a challenge for all ministers.
“By budget day, until we’ve closed the deals and secured funding, nothing is guaranteed, but what I would say is that farmers shouldn’t worry that everything is being done to ensure they have support and that every effort is made in budget negotiations to achieve a good result.”
A spokesman for the IFA warned that a decision not to fully fund the BEEP-S, tillage scheme and forage support scheme would be “an extremely negative signal for government to send to farmers”.
“For cattle breeders in 2022 the state has supported them with around 80 million euros for suckler cows, under the new CAP this figure has dropped to 52 million euros, so we need the minister to approve the BEEP scheme, that’s an extra 40 million euros to bring support back to at least 2022 levels.”
Meanwhile, ICMSA President Pat McCormack said: “Farmers are worried about the budget”.
“Farmers feel that there has long been a disconnect from budget day, it needs to be a day when the government remembers the target they have set for us as a 25 per cent reduction in emissions.
“On environmental targets we are part of the future but we need help from the government – if help doesn’t come on Tuesday it will be a clear lack of recognition of the effectiveness of farming.”
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/ploughing-championships/minister-remains-tight-lipped-on-farming-funding-in-budget-42005869.html The minister remains tense about the funding of agriculture in the budget