The allocation of €25 million for a dairy beef calf measure in the 2023-2027 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has been labeled “hugely disappointing” by one farm organisation.

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) claimed that the funding represents “half-hearted support for a better economics and lower-emission solution”.

Des Morrison, the chairperson of the association’s Livestock Committee, remarked that it is “incredibly disappointing that the CAP Strategic Plan put forward by the government contains such an underpowered and underfunded model of this option”.

According to Morrison, “all parties to the debate” accepted the need for greater integration of the dairy and beef sectors; and that “simple logic demanded” moving on the basis of the highest commercial returns and the lowest emissions.

He also said the the arguments in favour of the ICMSA’s own dairy calf beef model were “irrefutable”.

“To be honest, it’s very difficult to work out the logic or thinking behind this hopeless allocation. Compared to other plan allocations, €5 million per year for a dairy calf scheme is derisory,” the ICMSA livestock chair claimed.

He continued: “Given that over 50% of Irish beef production comes from the dairy herd, the government should have been much more ambitious and the level of funding is in sharp contrast to the €256 million allocated to the organics sector, for example.

“This would have delivered on emissions at the same time as delivering better returns for beef farmers. It’s a very curious and backward step on both commercial and environmental grounds.

A dairy beef measure, Morrison argued, is an “obvious, logical and popular option for us to pursue”.

“But instead we’re going to pass over this and sink hundreds of millions into schemes that are more aspiration than realisation,” he added.

Morrison concluded: “It’s obvious the government will need to review its level of funding set out in the CAP Strategic Plan and come back with a scheme that reflects the numbers that want to go with this option and the gains – both economic and environmental – to be made.”