Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West and member of the European Agriculture and Rural Development Committee Matt Carthy has called on the Minister for Agriculturein the Republic to introduce a compensation scheme for victims of cattle theft.
Carthy was speaking after the largest ever cattle theft took place earlier this month in Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath.
He said: “I am calling on the Minister for Agriculture to introduce support measures for farmers affected by cattle rustling.
“Having spoken with many farmers that have been victim of this crime their opinion is clearly that the government have not been proactive enough on this issue to date.
“Of course, the primary responsibility to address this issue at local level lies with an Garda Siochána in the first instance. However with cuts to Garda patrols and the closure of many rural Garda stations, it is becoming increasingly apparent that there is an insufficient police presence in the communities affected.
“In many cases farmers have invested heavily in livestock, often on the foot of loans from banks or other credit institutions and a theft can have huge financial consequences for individual farmers.
“This issue is also a threat to the entire beef industry as people will obviously ask the question ‘where is the beef going and where on the food chain is it being introduced?’ It has the potential to undermine consumer confidence in the traceability of meat products therefore placing the future livelihoods of beef farmers at risk.
“I am calling on the government to immediately introduce measures to support farmers who have been the victims of cattle rustling and to consider the introduction of a compensation scheme in particular. This must be coupled with a reversal of Garda cuts in rural areas and a full investigation into the destination of stolen beef.”