Measures to restructure the Irish beef and veal industry, included in the EU Commission’s draft implementation regulation are unacceptable, the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has said.

“It is shameful that an Irish Commissioner and his team of officials which has a sizeable Irish influence would put forward a proposal that targets our suckler farmers in the poorer regions who, are supplying the most public goods in terms of biodiversity and nature conservation and giving vital support to our local co-ops and feed merchants,” INHFA president Colm O’Donnell said.

“The proposed €50m being offered by Europe is nothing more than a bribe to give up our suckler industry similar to the 30 pieces of silver offered to Judas. Of course the betrayal by Judas is not the only thing that is ironic in this episode. 2,000 years ago we saw Barabbas the real villain of the peace walk free, something similar to what is happening in our farming industry today.”

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O’Donnell said the EU commissioner, Phil Hogan, wants to “wipe out” suckler farmers in poorer regions with this proposal.

“These suckler cows which contribute over €750m per year across 66,000 families in areas of the country where other types of economic activity is limited, he wants to replace with trees. But sadly as these trees grow communities will die which is why this fight is not just about farmers.”

However, the INHFA president said that it is not just about sucklers, it is a fight to keep local co-ops, feed merchants, hardware stores, rural shops and post offices open.

“It’s a fight for our youth to ensure the place they now call home will always be there for them. It’s a fight for those of us that are getting older to know that whatever uncertainty this brings; we can face it in our community with our families by our side. It’s a fight to be able to pass on a way of life that we cherish to future generations.”

The INHFA says that politicians should resist any proposal to cut suckler cow numbers even if that means refusing the €50m.

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