ICMSA welcomes ‘first step’ towards integration of dairy and beef

The announcement of a planned calf weighing measure for farmers rearing dairy beef calves has been welcomed by the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

ICMSA president Pat McCormack described it as an “important first step to improving the integration between the dairy and beef sectors”.

“While the ICMSA has been seeking the introduction of a much more comprehensive scheme…the introduction of this measure – modest as it is – is an acceptance of the need to move in the direction that ICMSA had been indicating for the last 18 months,” McCormack argued.

According to McCormack, both dairy farmers and beef farmers raising dairy calves will qualify for the payment, the €5 million funding for which was announced in Budget 2021 yesterday (Tuesday, October 13).

McCormack went on to call on the department to consider ways to increase the initial allocation of €5 million, in order to encourage the “maximum level of participation”.

Meanwhile, Des Morrison, the chairperson of the ICMSA Livestock Committee, said: “The acceptance of the need to accelerate integration between dairy and beef sectors is very significant and puts another positive option in front of farmers.

This can and will work but it’s essential that the terms and conditions of the scheme are kept as simple as possible to encourage the maximum level of participation.

“Farmers will avail of it if it’s practical and works for them and the integration that we need will gather pace and momentum that way,” Morrison stressed.

Earlier today, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue confirmed that the €5 million measure will take the form of a dairy calf-to-beef scheme.

The minister said at a press briefing this morning: “We’ve identified an additional €5 million for a dairy calf-to-beef scheme, to support the better integration of the dairy progeny into the beef sector.

We will have a big focus in the years ahead to ensure that the male progeny in particular that come off the dairy herd are fit for beef, and have beef credentials.

“This scheme, this €5 million, will be a welcome support in that regard, and also a welcome indicator that we want, as a policy direction, to very much ensure that the beef characteristics of [dairy calves] are something that can be profitable,” the minister added.