The Irish government and the European Commission are being called on to “move on from paying lip service” where food security is concerned.

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is reiterating a call to put “meaningful” support measures in place for suckler and beef farmers.

Speaking this morning (Wednesday, June 15), Brendan Golden, the association’s livestock chairperson, highlighted that suckler and beef farming are low-income sectors that “don’t have the capacity to absorb the level of input cost inflation they are currently exposed to”.

He noted the results of the Teagasc National Farm Survey 2021 (which were published yesterday), in which the average income for suckler farming last year was under €10,000, while for beef farming it was under €16,500.

“Beef farmers are particularly concerned about later this year and into next year, and are reluctant to make significant investments in finishing cattle for this period,” Golden said.

He added: “Market prices are strong at the moment, but on higher-stocked beef farms in particular, the market is not reflecting the higher production costs, which Teagasc has clearly identified in their analysis of the sectors.”

The food security issue, spurred on by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, is “showing the cracks” of the EU’s policy of moving funding away from food production, the IFA livestock chairperson claimed.

“The flexibilities provided by the commission must be used as a catalyst to address the huge flaws in the proposed new Common Agricultural Policy [CAP].

“The CAP plans must be revised to provide direct support to suckler and beef farmers for the work they do in producing food. We cannot talk about providing food security for the citizens of the EU on the one hand, while decimating the incomes of the farmers who produce this food in key policy areas,” Golden commented.

He called on Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue to come forward with proposals to include a payment of €300/suckler cow, and a €100/animal rearing and finishing payment, in Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan.

Golden and the IFA have also asked the government to provide direct support to suckler and beef farmers through the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR).

“The minister must provide suckler and beef farmers with the certainty needed to continue to invest in their farms and plan their production cycles for the coming months and years,” the IFA livestock chair concluded.