One of the farm organisations represented at the Beef Market Taskforce has welcomed what it calls a “solid commitment” for the development of a suckler beef brand.

During a eight-hour long Beef Market Taskforce meeting yesterday (Thursday, October 22), it was agreed that a €6 million allocation will be made to the promotion of suckler beef and the development of a brand for that product.

This morning, the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association said (INHFA) said the outcome will “deliver funding of up to €6 million over three years to develop a suckler brand and, crucially, a commitment from Meat Industry Ireland [MII] of processor involvement”.

This is the first time that the progeny of the 900,000-plus suckler cows will be differentiated in the marketplace and presented to the customer as a premium beef product.

“The profitability of the suckler cow has been a real cause of concern for the thousands of farmers whose land type leaves them with little farming alternatives. Following yesterday’s taskforce meeting there, is for the first time a glimmer of hope, for these farming families,” said Colm O’Donnell, the INHFA president.

He called for the initial “first steps” on this issue are implemented in full.

“Initial research undertaken in some markets by Bord Bia has shown that the associated qualities of suckler beef, such as authentic, ethically and naturally raised meat, resonated very strongly with the consumer. Those attributes will form the basis of the promotional effort and ultimate development of a brand proposition,” O’Donnell noted.

The INHFA president said that a commitment at the taskforce was given that work would begin immediately.

O’Donnell also outlined that the process will be overseen and supported by a monitoring group which will have a “majority of farmer representation in its makeup”.

Concluding his remarks, O’Donnell stated that “all stakeholders must now put their shoulder to the wheel and deliver on the objectives and road map laid down on what is a defining day for the suckler herd”.