Beef rebrand: ‘Suckler beef must be decoupled from dairy beef’

Naturally reared suckler beef must be decoupled from dairy-produced beef, according to calls made by the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA).

The “decoupling” was one of the key points outlined in the organisation’s “10-point Plan for the Future of Suckler Beef Farming and Ensuring Food Security for EU Citizens and Consumers”.

The plan was launched by the INHFA last Thursday, July 11, in Dublin, with a number of TDs and senators present at the launch.

National president Colm O’Donnell said: “Dairy-produced beef continues to be subsidised by our naturally reared suckler beef to the detriment of suckler farmers – and this has to end.

The rebranding of this suckler beef should recognise the unique farming system that prioritises quality over quantity, an animal reared in nature by their mother and produced with a low or carbon neutral footprint.

The INHFA is currently looking at the possibility of special European status for this beef under the Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) status, O’Donnell added.

The president said that this “would give it a major marketing advantage in mainland Europe and attract a much higher price”.

Lighter carcass beef

In addition to the rebranding of Irish suckler beef, the INHFA outlined its ongoing research at the “potential to develop and supply the market from a lighter carcass and a younger animal naturally reared by their mother”.

This, according to the organisation, would reduce the overall feeding requirements and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In developing a market for a new product, one of the most important aspects is timing and we believe the time for a product like this could never be better.

“In the coming months we hope to be able to move this forward with a view to having substantial progress made for the autumn of 2020.”

The farmer association also called for significant changes in relation to nitrates derogations; farmers availing of the nitrates derogation should not qualify for Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments, according to the organisation.

O’Donnell concluded by emphasising how support for Irish suckler farmers is vital to support the “struggling rural economy” in Ireland.