National suckler herd’s economic importance to be studied in early 2018

A study on the economic importance of Ireland’s national suckler cow herd will be carried out by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) in the first half of 2018.

Speaking at the association’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), the president of the IFA Joe Healy described the suckler cow herd as “a vital national asset”.

He said: “To underline the importance of the national suckler herd, the IFA will commission a study to quantify its contribution to the rural economy.

“Instead of implementing policies to reduce it, we need initiatives – including increased direct payments – to maintain and enhance it. I’m re-stating here today the IFA’s demand for a payment of €200 per suckler cow.

“We know how important the suckler herd is to rural Ireland and to the economy. We know that it is carried on in a lot of areas that aren’t as conducive to the likes of dairy or tillage farming.

“What we need to do is confirm the importance of the suckler herd; we saw how important beef exports were – €2.5 billion worth of exports.

The suckler herd is the foundation of the beef trade; it’s also the foundation of our live export trade, which is so important to this country.

The IFA’s director general Damian McDonald added that the association’s livestock committee approved the study at a meeting before Christmas.

He said: “We will shortly be announcing it and carrying it out and we expect to complete it in the first half of 2018.

“I think the point is that there has been a huge emphasis on environmental aspects. But, as the president pointed out in his speech, there’s not enough emphasis on the economic and social aspects of sustainability.

“That’s what we hope to balance out in terms of showing the spin-off value and the multiplier effect from the suckler herd – which we don’t feel is getting enough of credence at the moment.”