The delay in details being issued on the proposed dairy reduction scheme is “playing with the futures” of farm families, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).
Dairy reduction scheme: Delay in details ‘playing with futures’

Pat McCormack, the association’s president, said that the uncertainty around the scheme could be “ruinous” for these families.

“ICMSA participated in both the Dairy Vision Group and the Beef and Sheep Groups in the same good faith as we’d like to think that was the approach of all the other parties,” McCormack said.

“Both groups contributed to…the actions and policy needed to move forward on climate change. One of those was the need to introduce a dairy reduction/retirement scheme and the government representatives enthusiastically endorsed that idea.

Dairy reduction scheme: Delay in details 'playing with futures'
Dairy reduction scheme: Delay in details ‘playing with futures’

“The problem is that they haven’t announced a thing since then and the lead-in time for making decisions on dairy farms is at least two years,” he added.

McCormack said that farmers that may have considered the scheme “are still completely in the dark”, with the 2023 calving season underway and 2024 breeding programmes being planned.

“Farmers can’t think in terms of political cycles…we have to work seasons in advance and it’s really frustrating that we have to point this out to the political masters,” the ICMSA president commented.

“If [Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue] is serious at all about the scheme, a decision on the details will have to be announced within the next month.”

McCormack said that the scheme must be a voluntary one, and that its payment rates reflect the income loss of making a reduction as well as offering an incentive to join the scheme.

Furthermore, he called for farmers who enter such a scheme to be allowed to lease land under certain conditions.

“The government is very good at talking about climate action and their commitment to supporting the agriculture sector, but way too much of that support is just talk,” McCormack commented.

“If the retirement/reduction scheme is going to happen at all, then he has four weeks to spell it out in full detail,” he added.

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