Farmers have expressed their frustrations and anger over what has been described as poor communication of the index changes by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) at a meeting in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim.
Several hundred farmers attended the ICBF meeting in Co. Leitrim last night (Tuesday, November 28), to discuss the New Beef Eurostar evaluations.
But there was a noticeable level of farmer frustration as a result of changes that were made after farmers had agreed to sign up for the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP).
Many of the farmers in attendance raised the issue of the New Beef Eurostar evaluations at the meeting, which was chaired by the Leitrim Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) county chairperson, Liam Gilligan.
A number of speakers including ;Teagasc beef enterprise leader, Paul Crosson; Teagasc senior principal research officer, Donagh Berry; ICBF research scientist, Ross Evans and ICBF CEO, Sean Coughlan addressed the meeting, which was at times tense.
It was outlined during presentations last night that 84% of animals that are 4- and 5-star on the current evaluation will remain 4- and 5- star on the new evaluation and from a (SCEP) perspective, all existing genotyped 4- and 5-star animals will remain eligible for the programme in their current herds.
Responding to one farmer’s concern, ICBF CEO, Sean Coughlan, said: “I understand suckler farmers are getting a kicking from all sides but the notion that any of these changes are somehow a conspiracy is not true.”
Meanwhile Paul Crosson, Teagasc research officer and beef enterprise leader, also told the audience: “Looking down through the list of issues that are challenging profitability on the suckler side, there are obviously a huge, huge number of them.
“The cost of wintering a suckler cow in 2015 was on average €1.30/day.
“This winter, that’s going to be €1.95/day on average so we are going to have to aggressively chase after costs here.”
In a question and answer session at the meeting the Irish Beef and Lamb Association (IBLA) chairperson Gerry Pilkington, called for a motion of no confidence in the implementation of the latest index changes and a show of hands from the farmers in attendance.
He said there was no explanation as to how farmers would be compensated for the devaluation of their herds by these changes.