Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, is being called on to clarify what stakeholder consultation took place on a measure preventing suckler cow numbers from increasing under a future suckler scheme.

The Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plan (CSP), which was revealed at the end of last week, includes a ‘Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme‘, in which participants will not be able to increase suckler cow numbers, except in exceptional circumstances.

The CSP document states: “The scheme will prevent a participant increasing their suckler cow numbers over the course of the contract.

“However, in the exceptional cases where a farmer has had a very marginal increase – and to ensure that small changes do not impact on farmer participation – the [Department of agriculture] will allow some flexibility on this provision.”

Responding to the details of the scheme, The Irish Beef and Lamb Association (IBLA) has requested from the minister a “detailed explanation on the rationale behind this attempt to cap the suckler herd; who proposed it; and who agreed to it”.

The farmer association claimed that such a move is “an attempt to sacrifice the Irish suckler herd to benefit other sectors”.

“The Irish suckler herd is the back bone of rural Ireland and its communities and is a vital element of our rural circular economy. We find it completely underhanded that there was no mention of this measure at…the recent sitting of the Beef Market Taskforce,” an IBLA statement argued.

“This attempt to cap the Irish suckler herd will not be accepted by Irish suckler farmers. There will be no generational renewal in the beef sector with this department proposal.”

The association called on farmers around the country to contact their TDs and public representatives to “voice their outrage at this course of action”.

“No farm organisation claiming to represent the beef industry could support this measure being introduced in any format and we are asking all farm organisations to publicly declare their position on this matter,” the statement concluded.