Farmers call for urgent action over herds

Over 400 farmers voiced their frustration at the lack of support for the Irish beef and suckler herd in rural Ireland, during the recent meeting of The Midland and Western Charolais Club.

  At the meeting, entitled, ‘Beef from the suckler herd – Keeping farmers farming’, which took place in Carrick-on-Shannon on Friday, 12th February, farmers spoke of their worry at the lack of action on key issues that could determine the future of the suckler and beef herd in Ireland.

  Chairman for the meeting, Mr. Bernard Donohue said: “The incoming Government, and in particular the next Minister for Agriculture, needs to address long standing issues, which may have allowed Ireland’s €2 billion beef industry to flourish, but which have ignored the income crisis facing livestock-farm families.

  “Key areas that need to be addressed include the anti-competitive nature of the Irish beef industry at present, despite a single EU market, as well as issues around live exports to the UK, Egypt, Libya and Turkey and barriers to trade,” he added.

  Joe Gilfillan, Chairman of the local Carrick-on-Shannon Charolais Club added: “The current situation with price cuts resulting from weight limits being imposed by the factories will mean that the typical suckler farmer with continental cross weanlings will lose out, and beef finishers will have no chance of making a profit under the imposition of these weight penalties.”

   Justin McCarthy, Editor and CEO of the Irish Farmers Journal, reassured attendees that there is a positive future for suckler farmers however. “There is a market out there that wants our produce. Suckler farmers in Ireland operate mainly on marginal land, it is not a low cost enterprise and we cannot be expected to compete with countries that are able to use things like growth hormones in their production systems,” said Mr. McCarthy.

  He also challenged the industry to show the science that supported the claim that heavy well-conformed carcasses actually produced steak cuts with bigger eye muscle.

  During the meeting, which was attended by beef and suckler farmers from across the west and midlands, the lack of Government support for the Irish suckler herd was stressed.