It’s nonsense to compare beef and dairy incomes – Coveney

It’s nonsense to compare beef incomes with those in the dairy sector, according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

In a recent interview with Agriland he said that beef farming is not as profitable as dairy farming “but if you’re a dairy farmer you more or less have to be a full-time farmer. And you have to have a certain type of farm.

“This is about choice for people. Depending on the size and scale of the farm – the average size of suckler herds is 17 cows.

“It’s nonsense to compare beef incomes with dairy incomes. Unless you start comparing a similar size herds, and like with like.”

He also said that there are about 100,000 farmers in Ireland that get an income from beef, but only about 70,000 get their only farm income from beef, but there are only about 17,000 dairy farmers.

“Beef is a very different category, it’s much more diverse. There are some producers with very large herds and very intensive systems and then there are part-time farmers.

“The capital investment required to get into dairy is multiples of that for beef.”

“Beef is the biggest priority for me.”

Beef is, in many ways, he said, the heartbeat of rural Ireland. “It’s where the vast majority of farmers get much of their income from and it is where most rural communities have income sources from. It’s a big industry involving lots of people. We need to protect it as best we can.”