By Catherine Egan, Beef Specialist, Teagasc

2019 has been a very challenging year for cattle farmers and beef producers. The theme for this year’s Teagasc National Beef Conference is – ‘Irish Beef- A Changing Landscape’.

The conference is taking place on Tuesday, December 10, at 6.00pm, in the McWilliam Park Hotel, Claremorris, Co. Mayo.

The opening session of the conference will look at future markets for Irish beef, suckler efficiencies, beef schemes, and the influence of genetics on beef-eating quality.

While there has been significant increase in exports to international markets and live exports, Joe Burke – Bórd Bia – will outline the key market trends and overall impact for the industry in 2020, and the possibility of new markets for Irish beef going forward.

Dr. Andrew Cromie, Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF), will present on the results of the Beef Data Genomics Programme (BDGP) and Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) to date.


There is a clear trend from analysis of the ‘5 Year Trend’ statistics that herds participating in BDGP are moving in the right direction.

Non-BDGP herds are also making gains, albeit at a slower rate, and this demonstrates how the positive impact of BDGP is being felt in herds outside of the programme.

Over the past decade, many farmers have been involved in Teagasc demonstration programmes. Teagasc beef specialist – Alan Dillon – will outline the key lessons learned.

While systems differ, the underlying principles in improved efficiencies in breeding, grassland management and herd health can be implemented on every farm.

Meat-eating quality will possibly be a key trait for the future. As Initial parameters indicate significant opportunity to increase meat-eating quality through genetics, Teagas’s Dr. Donagh Berry will outline how genetics impact on meat-eating quality.

Panel discussion

There will be a panel discussion titled ‘Brexit – Facts and the Future’. This discussion will address key challenges facing the beef industry.

Key questions relating to ‘how we will meet the requirements for climate change and greenhouse gases (GHG)?’ will be addressed by Philip Blackwell, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Dr. Kevin Hanrahan, head of the Teagasc rural economy development programme, will discuss the contribution of the cattle sector to the rural economy.

His research in agricultural economics has been largely based on evaluating the impact of policy changes. In the context of Brexit, Kevin’s expertise will be very relevant in providing economic and policy analysis for the sector.

The UK was originally due to leave the European Union (EU) on March 29, 2019. But, two extensions and three and a half years later, the Brexit date has been delayed until January 31, 2020.

Senator Ian Marshall – farmer and former president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) – who was elected to the Seanad last year, will outline his view in relation to how Brexit will impact the industry.

Dr. Bernadette Early, researcher in Teagasc Grange, will be highlighting the welfare advantages experienced by animals in Irish systems, and results from recent research studies relating to animal housing, castration and transport.

The closing address will be delivered by Prof. Tom Kelly, director of knowledge transfer.

When and where?

The Teagasc National Beef Conference – which takes place in the McWilliam Park Hotel, on December 10, at 6.00pm.

Light refreshments will be served afterwards.