Farmers who produce both milk and beef off their farms do not always consider themselves as strictly dairy farmers, according to Joe Healy, the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Speaking to AgriLand last week on the issue of the Beef Emergency Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme – and the exclusion of the vast majority of dairy herds from the €100 million fund – Healy argued that many of these herd owners “are not dairy farmers per se”.

“They’re mixed farmers producing milk and beef off their farm. A lot of them are milking 30, 40, 50 or 60 cows, and they produce beef,” he said.

Healy gave two examples of farmers he had spoken with who milk cows but did not see themselves strictly as dairy farmers.

“I spoke to a farmer who considers himself a beef farmer who also milks dairy cows… Another farmer said to me: ‘I’m not sure how much money I’m making out of it, but I sell the cattle in October, and it helps pay the college fees and contractor fees’,” Healy explained.

He said that, in the second farmer’s case, the milk “keeps him going from month to month”.

He argued that the amount of funding needed from the scheme to cater for farmers who produce milk and beef would be relatively small.

I would say that it would be less than 10% to account for what would be drawn down for farmers who sold cattle but also produce milk.

The IFA president, who spoke to AgriLand last Wednesday, July 24, at the launch of the association’s submission for Budget 2020, argued that the fund should “go to farmers – all farmers who killed prime cattle”.

“That’s young bulls, heifers, steers – and a significant proportion should go to suckler farmers as well”, he added, citing the principles the IFA had put forward for distributing the fund.

“Those principles were based on eight regional meetings that the IFA held all around the country, attended by 3,000 farmers,” he stressed.

Those principles haven’t changed; and there’s no need to complicate a scheme that can get to the people that are most in need of it.

He also highlighted the importance of speed: “That money needs to be got out as soon a possible, and every cent of it to farmers who slaughtered beef animals in Ireland.”