‘Overly simplistic’ to advise suckler reduction for climate action – ICSA

It is “overly simplistic” to advise that suckler numbers be reduced to mitigate climate change, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

Responding to proposals in the recently published Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) report, ICSA suckler chairman John Halley questioned the recommendation.

“There is no point in cutting suckler numbers if it’s just to increase dairy numbers,” he said.

There is also no point in cutting our suckler numbers so beef can be produced more inefficiently elsewhere in the world. None of this makes sense.

Continuing, Halley stressed that it is not good enough for farmers to “take all the pain” of meeting national climate objectives when they do not have viable alternatives.

The chairman also called on Prof. John Fitzgerald, chair of the CCAC, to explain exactly what other ways there are for suckler farmers to make money.

‘No alternatives’

“It remains the case that unless there are viable policies and strategies in place to make money out of renewable gas or selling electricity back to the grid from solar panels, or sufficient supports for biofuels, particularly the move to E10 biofuel, there simply are no alternatives,” Halley asserted.

“It will also never be the case that these alternatives will provide a panacea for suckler farmers.”

The chairman said that, if the country is serious about a transition to alternative income streams, then additional financial supports would be necessary to accommodate this.

It must be remembered that our suckler farmers are the backbone of our multi-billion euro beef industry and to suggest that they and their numbers be arbitrarily sacrificed is shameful.

“It is simply not realistic to think that these talented farmers can just bale out of the industry.

“Moreover, climate change mitigation requires a multi-industry approach.

‘Beyond hypocritical’

“The Irish agriculture sector is more than willing to adapt to evolving and more environmentally sustainable practices and to this end farmers will always respond to the right incentives.

“It’s beyond hypocritical to single out agriculture when we have not seen anything like the same commitment from the aviation and industrial sectors, amongst others,” Halley concluded.