Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture & Food Charlie McConalogue says his party has secured the first in a series of improved payments for the suckler sector with an initial €20m enhanced fund for farmers in Budget 2019.

While many challenges remain for the sector – this sends out a clear message that the State values suckler farming and the massive economic benefits it brings to rural Ireland.

Deputy McConalogue explained, “Earlier this year Fianna Fáil brought forward a motion in the Dáil calling for priority for the suckler sector.  The passing of this motion shone a spotlight on the difficulties this sector is facing and acted as a key catalyst for action.

“Time and time again Minister Creed resisted any increase in suckler funding and lambasted my colleagues and I when we raised this issue. Under sustained pressure from Fianna Fáil, the Minister has been forced into a u-turn and an initial €20m enhanced fund has been provided for in Budget 2019.

“The campaign towards a €200 suckler cow payment drives on now at full steam and the Minister must not put any further road blocks in its path.

“I also welcome the fact that party negotiators secured an additional €23m in ANC funding and full restoration must be bridged at the next budget.

“It is hugely disappointing that the government has once more refused to introduce a farm management scheme – a key tool required by farmers to combat income volatility.  A lack of movement on a hardship fund or loan scheme to help bridge the massive cash flow difficulties they are experiencing is also disheartening.

“This presents a worrying picture for farmers who are still waiting for the €25m Brexit loan scheme, announced in last year’s budget, to open.  The scheme will only be available from the start of 2019 – just three months out from a possible cliff edge scenario.

“I look forward to hearing the full budgetary details from the Minister in the Dáil on Thursday morning, especially the specifics on the new suckler fund, increased ANC funding and the spend on new SPS staff”.