ICSA elects new suckler committee chair

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has elected a new chairperson for its suckler committee.

Kilkenny man Ger O’Brien was elected to the role at a meeting of the association’s National Executive in Portlaoise last night, Thursday, February 13.

O’Brien runs a suckler enterprise with 60 cows, and works part time as a linear scoring technician and as an AI technician.

Speaking after his election, O’ Brien commented: “Our priority in the suckler committee is to ensure the schemes in CAP [Common Agricultural Policy] Pillar 2 deliver more support for suckler farmers and are matched with stronger national co-funding.”

“In particular, we need to see a new BDGP [Beef Data and Genomics Programme] scheme based on breeding quality beef using terminal and maternal sires; export grade weanlings; and valuable cows both as calf producers and cull cows,” O’Brien argued.

He continued: “We also want to see the BEEP [Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot] scheme continued with a higher payment per head, and will the demanding that live exports are fully supported by any incoming government. These are all required to ensure the survival of the suckler sector.ā€

In his remarks, O’Brien also referred to suckler farmers as being “custodians of the environment”.

By combining good farming practices with maintaining hedgerows and less heavily-stocked farms, suckler farmers are especially well positioned to protect water quality.

“However, we need to see all this work rewarded through a payment for carbon sequestration,” he argued.

He concluded his remarks by calling for a a national policy for the international promotion of Irish suckler beef as a “niche product”, saying: “This would include a marketing strategy for suckler beef and PGI (protected geographical indication) status specifically for sucklers.”