ICMSA responds to dairy calf-to-beef scheme criticisms

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) has responded to criticisms of its proposal for a dairy calf-to-beef scheme, saying: “We have to start facing facts and basing solutions on the reality.”

The associations are saying that “we cannot continue to ignore the reality of a given situation and we need to advocate solutions that will deliver additional incomes for beef farmers”.

According to Pat McCormack, the association’s president, representation of farmers’ interest has been “bedeviled by a focus on what we wished were the facts of a matter as opposed to the facts that are there for anyone minded to see them”.

This is the exact category in which the ICMSA calf-to-beef scheme belongs, and it is disappointing to see people dismissing out-of-hand possible solutions that demonstrably would leave farmers better off through higher returns, while also helping in terms of improved overall national emissions and better animal welfare.

“I don’t expect anyone or any organisation to automatically support an ICMSA proposal…I understand why people might feel the need to stay with the illusions as opposed to dealing with reality, but according to Teagasc, the potential to make a profit is better from dairy beef production systems than suckler systems,” McCormack added.

The ICMSA president said that he had been speaking to suckler farmers and was aware of the “specific challenges” that they face.

The choice we all have to face…is do we face the facts of where we are and where the whole sector and industry is moving to, or do we pretend that nothing has changed and that the last 20 years are some sort of temporary ‘glitch’ that will pass and things – and margins – can go back to the way they were?

McCormack argued: “Everyone is free to make a choice between those two: living in the real farming world; or living in the farming world as we’d like it to be.

“ICMSA lives in the real farming world where we’re obliged by our ethos and commitment to come up with reals solutions for farmers facing real problems. That’s what our calf-to-beef scheme is designed to address because, when we see real problems, we’re obliged to come up with real solutions and we’ll never make an apology for that,” he insisted.

McCormack concluded his remarks by saying: “We need to see improved profitability from dairy beef production systems, and this scheme is designed to deliver improved margins.”