The new beef genomics scheme launched by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney of €52m per year amounting to a payment of €80 per cow on 650,000 calved cows is a positive move for suckler farmers.
This is according to Irish Farmers Association (IFA) national livestock chairman Henry Burns who was speaking in Bandon, Co Cork today.
Welcoming the announcement by the minister, Burns said IFA had lobbied hard for a strong targeted payment for suckler cows in Common Agricultural Policy and it will be a real challenge to stabilise the valuable national suckler cow.
Burns said it is essential that the maximum gains are leveraged from the benefits of genomics for suckler farmers as quickly as possible and any costs associated with participation in the scheme are kept to an absolute minimum. He said maintaining the one million national suckler cow herd is vital in terms of producing the quality beef which enables the sector to secure the high priced premium retail and food service outlets across the UK and Europe.
The IFA livestock leader said the suckler cow herd is the backbone of the beef and livestock sector. An IFA study of the importance of the Cattle and Sheep sectors to the Irish economy by Professor Alan Renwick from University College Dublin shows that the €2.3bn output at farm gate level creates total economic output of €5.7bn. In addition, the sector supports 100,000 farmers and over 50,000 jobs in the wider economy.
“One of the key findings in this report is that each €1 of direct support for cattle and sheep farmers underpins over €4 of aggregate output in the economy.”
Burns said a large number of suckler farmers are operating on very marginal land with very low incomes and do not have options on changing enterprise. He said the reality is direct payments make up over 100 per cent of net income and Minister Coveney must continue to work strongly on supporting the sector.