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.”

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.”