In lreland, farmers have 2.56 million breeding ewes. If you add in ewe lambs and fallen sheep, at a guess I would say we only have 3.2 million or so sheep to sell.

If Bord Bia and the factories [processors] say they can’t sell this number it would be a poor outlook for this country.

‘What about beef?’

And what about beef? If processors can’t or won’t pay us for our top-quality suckler calf weanlings, we will have to demand a €500/head cow-reduction scheme.

Why would we need this? The reason is that not all farmers will reduce their suckler cow numbers. Why €500/head? It would work out at €250/head for the cow that’s gone; and €250/head for the cow that remains on the farm.

The farmer would have the option of simply standing by and watching the complete annihilation of his or her suckler herd; or retaining a percentage.

I would pitch that a scheme like this could last five years. After five years, the farmer would be free to do whatever he or she likes.

People talk about ‘Just Transition’ [for workers on the bogs]. Why can’t some farmers be trained and financially supported – to undertake another business on a farm?

If we don’t do something, family farms in Ireland will simply disappear forever.

From Tom Stephenson – a member of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) 

Latest coronavirus (Covid-19) news

Meanwhile, for the latest farming news and updates accruing from the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, check out on special ‘updates [ongoing]’ story.

Also Read: Latest coronavirus updates for farmers…as they happen (ongoing)

It’s worth noting that – on Sunday, April 5 – the Department of Health reported that 390 new cases of Covid-19 had been declared in the Republic of Ireland, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 4,994. 21 more people had died here, bringing the total number of deaths from the virus to 158.