ICMSA hits out at ‘negative commentary’ on dairy beef

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) has criticised the “negative running commentary” on dairy beef, saying the focus should be on “maximising the potential” of it.

According to Des Morrison, the association’s Livestock Committee chairperson, the issue of profitability in the beef sector was there before the expansion of the dairy herd, which he says “dispels the myth” that dairy beef is at fault for the beef sectors current problems.

It has become fashionable and popular to blame the expansion of the dairy herd for all the problems in the beef sector. As is often the case with these explanations, once you look at the facts you quickly discover that they are simply not true.

According to Morrison, dairy beef has always accounted for over 50% of the total beef production in Ireland, a figure he says will only increase in the future.

“Everyone is going to have to deal with that and shift focus to maximising the return from dairy beef production, rather than talking it down and undermining it,” he said.

Prices

Morrison argued that the current condition of beef prices is an issue for all sources of the produce, be it dairy or suckler, and that shifting price differentials to favour one sector was “completely unfair”.

“The obvious point here, which many of these anti-dairy beef commentators seem determined to overlook, is that the base price of beef is simply too low to return a sustainable price, and that’s across all types of beef production,” he claimed.

That’s the crux of the matter and focusing instead on the spurious ‘suckler-versus-dairy’ non-issue ignores this core principle and plays right into the hands of those playing farmer sectors off against each other to deflect attention away from their own role in the crisis.

Morrison insisted that the “real problem” was the standards and specifications that farmers have to meet – which, he said, benefits everyone except the farmer.

“This is the real problem, and this is where the focus needs to be. Instead we have people undermining dairy production which is now – and should remain – a very sustainable system of beef production from both an economic and environmental viewpoint,” he concluded.

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