The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) president, Dermot Kelleher has said that suckler farmers need “fairness” in all decisions around climate and funding.
Kelleher said that when a reduction scheme for the suckler sector was raised by the Food Vision Beef and Sheep group, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) refused to talk about any potential financial packages.
He added that the ICSA would engage with the government if there was a willingness of a financial proposal offered to those willing to reduce herd numbers.
The ICSA have also called for this financial proposal to treat suckler cows the same as dairy cows.
In a statement, Kelleher said: “We will not tolerate this being a debate about how much a suckler cow is worth in income, the only metric is how much emissions are reduced by each cow surrendered.”
ICSA suckler chair, Jimmy Cosgrave said: “The suckler brand is being hammered by the lack of urgency of meat processors in getting behind it.”
While the association is not enthusiastic about a reduction scheme, it understands that factory price cuts mean that farmers will have to cut costs, according to Cosgrave.
He said the ICSA has “always been” supporting the suckler herd and aiming to achieve €300/cow in support.
This aim for support was included in the ICSA’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform proposal.
“Sadly, no other farm organization backed this proposal wholeheartedly. This will have to be re-examined again in a mid-term review of the CAP Strategic Plan,” Cosgrave said.
“As a less intensive system of farming, ICSA does not accept that cutting the suckler herd is any solution to the climate challenge, but we need to have clarity from government on this very point.
“It really is time for government to decide if they are with us or against us,” Cosgrave added.