Minister Creed: Societies’ ‘beef’ is not with Teagasc

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed has expressed his disappointment at the news earlier today (June 26) that a number of beef breed societies opted to stay away from today’s BEEF 2018 open day, organised by Teagasc.

Speaking to AgriLand after giving the opening address to the Sustainability Forum at the event, Minister Creed said: “I think it’s unfortunate that they’re not here; I mean their ‘beef’ – pardon the pun – isn’t with Teagasc.

“This is a day for the beef industry generally – and the breed societies are an important part of that.

“I’m aware of their issues with the ICBF; and BDGP etc, I’ve listened to the Oireachtas debates, but breed societies have a role to play and the BGDP on the other hand is a kind of a data-driven scheme that makes data available to farmers about what’s the best investment opportunities.

They’re different things; breed societies have a different objective and I think it’s unfortunate that they choose an event as important and significant as this for the beef industry to boycott it.

Sustainability and climate

Moving onto the topic of environmental sustainability in the beef sector, the minister pointed to the schemes already in place and what needs to be done to improve engagement with such initiatives.

Minister Creed said: “We’re spending in the department €300 million over the lifetime of the current rural development programme on BDGP; that’s just one measure of improving the genetic merit of the beef herd. Earlier calving; earlier finishing of cattle; reducing the carbon footprint.

“Knowledge Transfer is really important to get people to embrace beef technology and its message on sustainability.

The challenge is, it’s not the people that are here [at the open day]; it’s not the people that are participating in BDGT or KT; it’s the more difficult-to-reach people.

“And that’s going to be a real challenge. And, in the context of the next CAP, that’s going to be important; because part of their payments – more than today – are going to be contingent on sustainable environmental practices.”

Heatwave

On the current heatwave and drought conditions, with speculation of possible fodder issues going forward, the minister insisted that the situation is being monitored by the department.

He said: “We convened in May a stakeholder group on fodder looking at the experience we’ve just had, to make sure that we could plan for the winter coming up. And, in fact, only yesterday I joined in by teleconference call with that meeting in Tullamore – and they’re acutely aware of the weather conditions and how that’s impacting in particular parts of the country.

It’s different in different parts of the country; I was talking to some people from Leitrim there earlier and they’re having an incredible year with heavy ground – they’re growing ground like they never grew before.

“If you talk to people in Wexford, Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford, and even down into parts of my own constituency and in Cork, generally, it’s a very different story.

“So, the important thing is the messaging to farmers at every opportunity. We do need in certain areas rainfall – that inevitably will come – but we need to make sure that we’re coordinating the message and that’s underway at the stakeholder group.”

CAP budget negotiations

Meanwhile, regarding the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), during his address to the audience at the Sustainability Forum held at BEEF 2018 earlier today, Minister Creed said that the Irish Government is working with a number of like-minded member states to negotiate restoring the CAP budget to some degree.

He explained: “There’s an initiative by France, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Greece and ourselves – and now a total of 18 member states have signed up to at least restore the budget to its current level.”

However, the minister stressed that there would need to be unanimity across member states for the budget to be boosted from current levels, with some member states currently in staunch opposition to this.

There are at least four outliers who have stated in the context of the published CAP budget that the cuts didn’t go far enough and that they’re not prepared at this stage to contribute more. They are the Dutch, the Danes, the Austrians and the Swedes.

“So it’s a significant challenge; and the commission can only spend the budget that the member states give them – so we are working to try and create sufficient momentum to have a situation where member states will contribute more,” Minister Creed said.