The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has said that the Teagasc National Farm Survey proves that more support is needed for suckler farmers.

The report, which was released yesterday (Tuesday, June 14), revealed that 60% of suckler farmers earn less than €10,000.

The average income for farms rearing cattle last year stood at almost €11,000, which is a 30% increase on the 2020 figure, according to Teagasc.

However, the survey showed that costs on suckler farms had increased by 10%.


The ICSA suckler chairman said that the report bolsters the farming organisation’s call for substantially higher suckler supports.

Jimmy Cosgrave claimed that Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue has “made a major mistake” by not including a coupled payment for suckler farmers in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) strategic plan.

“This is all the more evident when we see that in 2021, dairy farms made nine times more income than suckler farms.

“Already, it is clear that the divergence between suckler and dairy incomes in 2022 will be even more pronounced. Yet the reality is that the CAP strategic plan is not fit for purpose given that it is taking money away from suckler farmers,” he said.

The ICSA has proposed the coupled payment on top of the other suckler schemes which it said would deliver a €300/cow payment to farmers.

“We cannot continue with suckler farming delivering an average €10,900 at a time when costs are going through the roof,” Cosgrave said.

He also claimed that the proposed new suckler scheme will deliver less money per cow than the combination of the current Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) and Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme (BEEP).

“Suckler farming is vital to the economies of many rural communities especially in the west of Ireland. It is simply not viable for small or fragmented holdings, or those on marginal land, to make large-scale investment to convert to dairying.

“In any event, the signal is coming from processors and government that we have enough dairy farmers now,” he continued.

“The minister must face up to the reality that suckler farming needs higher supports, and this must be delivered,” the ICSA chair concluded.