Time to ‘recognise the reality’ and integrate the dairy and beef sectors – ICMSA

Calls have been made for the need to integrate the dairy and beef sectors and for the new Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Barry Cowen, to introduce a scheme to “do just that” and produce beef that is “sustainable, profitable and suitable for the marketplace”.

The chairperson of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) livestock committee, Des Morrison, has pointed out that over 60% of beef produced in Ireland now comes from the dairy herd and this percentage is likely to rise in future years.

He said it was time “to recognise the reality and begin to work at integrating the dairy and beef sectors to the benefit of both”.

Morrison confirmed that the ICMSA had raised this matter directly with Barry Cowen at a meeting last week and he “agreed to consider the matter”.

It’s perfectly clear that this is beef production with massive potential and multiple benefits. The most obvious being the carbon efficiency of beef from the dairy herd.

“That fact must be recognised and we need to start synchronising these two systems,” he said.

Dairy beef scheme

“The ICMSA has developed and drafted a dairy beef scheme that we believe will support dairy beef producers, improve the quality of beef coming from the dairy herd and benefit the beef farmer and the wider economy.

“The scheme would see farmers receive €150/beef-sired dairy calf divided into two payments: €75 upon receipt of weighing records at six-to-12 months; and another €75 at slaughter.

The difficulties in the beef sector have been well documented and we know that we need to maximise the return from all elements and aspects.

“Dairy beef production has considerable potential, and a support scheme from the government is not only justified in its own right, but will also deliver for the rural and wider economy.

“The ICMSA is earnestly hoping that the new minister will see the merit, logic and undeniable benefits of implementing such a dairy calf scheme,” concluded Morrison.