The Beef Plan Movement (BPM) has carried out a survey of suckler farmers to gauge their interest in a suckler reduction scheme.

The work was carried out courtesy of the organisation’s social media platforms and 786 farmers took part.

“While we are diametrically opposed to a suckler reduction scheme, it was important to ask suckler farmers what they want,” BPM’s vice-chair John Maloney said.

“The BPM has no issue with the introduction of a retirement scheme for farmers.

“But, we have a problem with any flawed agenda which promotes a reduction in the number of suckler animals, claiming that such a move will enhance the environment.”

The survey posed seven questions, the first of which asked if farmers agree with the statement that suckler and beef farmers are not for sale at €3000/cow or any other price?

To this, 66.7% answered ‘yes’; 20.5% ‘no’; and 12.8% ‘don’t know’.

When they survey then asked if farmers would be interested in reducing their suckler herd size to avail of a €3000/cow payment, the majority (63%) said they wouldn’t; 10% were unsure with the remaining 27% saying they would.

Following on from this, 93.5% agreed that said payment would need to be tax-free.

The survey also asked farmers how much they would resuce their herd size by, which the responses as follows:

  • 100% reduction: 15.6% of respondents;
  • 50-99% reduction: 10.6% of respondents;
  • 1-49% reduction: 73.8% of respondents.;

When asked if they be more in favour of a grant to keep suckler farming viable – the support level proposed was in the range approximat €350 – €400/cow – 88.4%. said they would.

Finishing off, the survey asked farmers if they believe a large-scale reduction in the Irish suckler herd would help to noticeably reduce the effects of climate change, with the results as follows:

  • Yes: A major impact – 1.7%;
  • A minor but noticeable impact – 8%;
  • No impact on climate change – 86.6%;
  • Don’t know. – 3.7%.

Commenting further, Maloney said:

“Over two-thirds of Irish suckler farmers are committed to maintaining their current herd size,” Maloney said.

“The other one third are either undecided or are considering the financial benefits of such a scheme.

“Virtually all the farmers interested in a reduction scheme would expect the payment to be tax free to make it viable.

“It is encouraging to see that over 88% of the farmers surveyed would prefer an annual suckler payment of around €400, relative to a once-off reduction scheme payment, in order to keep them farming,” he added.

“Also, nearly 74% of farmers who would take up a suckler reduction scheme would like to have the option of returning to suckling after a set time period. It is also interesting to note that almost 87% of farmers believe a large-scale cull of the suckler herd will have no impact on climate change.

“This is significant, considering the whole point of a cull of the suckler herd is to mitigate against the effects of climate change.”