Some 81% of farmers said they would reconsider their future in beef farming after 2016, a recent Agriland poll has found.
It was a difficult year for beef farmers with the income generated from beef farming sitting between €12,000-16,000.
Beef farmers also had to contend with falling beef prices and volatility in the market caused by a 80,000 head increase in beef cattle supplies and the fallout from the Brexit vote in the UK.Meanwhile, the poll results also show that many farmers don’t see a future for the Irish suckler cow, with 65% of the poll respondents saying they don’t see a future for such enterprises.
This comes after rapid growth in the Irish dairy herd, following the abolition of milk quotas in 2015, which is likely to lead to an increase in the number of dairy-born calves available on the market.
This is further galvanised by the figures from the ICBF which show that an additional 66,210 dairy calvings occurred on Irish farms in 2016 (to the week ending December 16), bringing the number of dairy calvings for 2016 to almost 1.34m head.
When farmers were asked if they would consider making the switch from suckler farming to calf rearing in the future, the response was divided evenly.
Some 50% of farmers said the would consider moving away from suckler farming to calf rearing, while the remaining 50% said they wouldn’t.
Prospects for beef farming in 2017
As part of the recent Teagasc Annual Review and Outlook for 2017, Teagasc Economists indicated that the beef sector is facing into a difficult year ahead.
Beef supplies are forecast to increase across the EU next year, while the demand for beef will not be not particularly strong.
All-in-all this is likely to lead to a 10% fall in European beef prices next year.
And given that the UK market is particularly important for Irish beef exports, the weakness of Sterling will also have an adverse impact on beef prices in Ireland, which are forecast to fall by 12%, it says.