Incentivise farmers to reduce suckler stock – ICSA

Call for €200 per cow subsidy.

Oversupply of beef undermining sector

Sligo News File Online

The ICSA is calling for farmers to be financially incentivised to cut suckler cow production.

Dermot Kelleher,
Chairman, ICSA Suckler Committee

Proposing a €200 per suckler cow payment, the association has said “oversupply of beef in Europe and the complete lack of profitability” is crippling the viability of the beef sector.

Chairman of the association’s suckler herd committee, Dermot Kelleher, who wants the subsidy to run for upwards of five years on a voluntary basis, said “the ICSA believes that farmers are sick and tired of losing money to produce beef when there is so much uncertainty around viable markets.

“We need,” he said, “to learn from the strategy applied at EU level to deal with the dairy crisis in 2016 where the strategy was a rational move to reduce production to deal with the supply and demand imbalance.

“This strategy would expose the hypocrisy of Food Wise 2025 expansion targets by sending out a clear signal that anything less than €200 per cow net profit is unacceptable. It would expose the deadly consensus that farmers should be satisfied with just breaking even.

“Many older suckler farmers are putting their lives and health on the line trying to manage suckler cows and returns from the marketplace are getting worse and worse.

“The introduction of penalties on the payment grid for high-quality heavy carcasses, the ongoing 30 months cut off, the racket of four residencies and the impact of Brexit on price are all coming together to completely undermine suckler farming. Factories have refused point blank to engage on these issues and Bord Bia has been unable to find any solutions, he said.

“As we face into 2017 we see 200,000 more cattle for slaughter than in 2015 and continued uncertainty about live exports particularly to traditionally important markets like Italy. It is abundantly clear that the only way to deliver farm viability is scarcity. Farm organisations have to take a responsible attitude on basic economic principles that will address the profitability question above all other considerations.


“It will also be necessary to deal with the surge of so-called bobby calves from the dairy herd. With the increasing trend towards cross-breeding using a combination of Holstein and Jersey genetics there is a glut of male calves totally unsuitable for any sort of viable beef production system. The options are exporting them for veal, veal systems in Ireland or disposal through the knackery system.

“One thing is clear: advocating using them for beef is reckless and irresponsible as systems,” he said, “are unviable and they are just adding to the glut of beef which is further dragging down the price.”