‘When the finisher sneezes, the suckler farmer gets the flu’ – ICSA

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has indicated today, Friday, May 24, that it will be putting its shoulder to the wheel in the battle to secure “a fair share” of the €100 million beef support package that was announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed last week.

The organisation’s suckler chairman John Halley told AgriLand in a statement that he would personally “battle for suckler farmers” to get their fair share, when the aid is eventually distributed to them in a few months’ time.

Minister Creed, meanwhile, assured the industry earlier this week that the €100 million “will be for farmers and not for factories”.

He also outlined the timeline with regard to the distribution of those funds.

“Once we get the terms and conditions from Europe I plan to engage with the farm organisations around how we design a scheme on the terms and conditions,” he added.

“We will invite applications and our ambition would be to pay as early as possible.”

‘Financial hit’

Halley, meanwhile, pointed to the financial hit the industry has taken.

“Since March 2017, weanlings have been back 30-40c/kg. That equates to losses of between €120-160/head for top-quality weanlings,” he continued.

“Those are massive losses for a suckler farmer to bear.

While finishers are able to cut their cloth according to their measure when they go back to the ring, suckler farmers are not so fortunate as they just have to take what they can get.

“It must be remembered if the finishers don’t have the raw material to work with then they will have to produce the calves for themselves.”

Before concluding, Halley indicated that those losses would need to be factored into the distribution of the aid package.

“It is imperative that the suckler farmer is protected and the losses they have suffered must be taken into consideration when the support funds are being allocated,” he added.

“When the finisher sneezes, it’s the suckler farmer that gets the flu.”