‘Road map’ for Irish beef sector to be put forward today

Strengthening the power of farmers in the supply chain through producer groups and contracts is top of the agenda in a new “road map” for the Irish beef sector, drawn up by Macra na Feirme.

The young farmers’ organisation and representative group is seeking the use of producer organisations to provide forward selling agreements and contracts with processors – which it believes will help to provide greater certainty on margins for young farmers.

In addition, the organisation believes the beef sector must be more vocal about its low carbon footprint and greater advertising is required of the constant work being done on farms to reduce emissions.

The proposals are part of the organisation’s Sustainable Beef Policy which sets out a road map to create a viable beef sector for potential new entrants.

The proposals include calls for:
  • Broader access to training and advisory services which can give beef farmers the knowledge and technical skills required to maximise the resource at their feet;
  • Introduction of a young farmer bonus to be paid by processors, recognising the fact that young farmers are the most likely to adapt and put in place the advances in technology that will drive the future of this sector;
  • The formation of EU-recognised producer organisations which will negotiate with factories or exporters and give beef farmers who have not the size or scale, the bargaining power of large-scale beef producers; and
  • The removal of VAT on all sexed semen AI straws by allowing all farmers to reclaim the VAT, including non-registered. A greater adoption of sexed semen use could further help reduce the carbon emissions of the beef sector by allowing farmers to choose the correct straw for their requirements, whether that be breeding replacements or having cattle for finishing.

Macra na Feirme national president James Healy commented ahead of his presentation of Macra’s Sustainable Beef Policy 2019 document to the joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, due to kick off later this afternoon.

Healy said: “Through an extensive consultation process Macra na Feirme engaged and consulted with young beef farmers across the country through both surveys and six meetings which encouraged them to debate their views on the future of the sector.

“For many of our beef farmers, the current situation is unsustainable. Everyone talks about generational renewal and yet the average age of the beef farmer keeps increasing – because it is not a viable industry for most new entrants to farming.

This policy document sets out the changes our young farmers feel are required to make a real difference to our beef industry.

For those interested, the full policy document is available for download on the Macra website.