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HomeBeefCalls for end to anti-suckler narrative
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Calls for end to anti-suckler narrative

The ICSA has called on Minister Charlie McConalogue to “put a stop once and for all to all this anti-suckler narrative that has infected state, and state-sponsored agencies”.

Its leader, Dermot Kelleher, believes the minister can do this by “taking a firm decision” to include a coupled suckler support on top of reinvigorated BDGP and BEEP schemes in line with the farm group’s CAP strategy proposals.

Anti-suckler narrative

“The minister needs to move sooner rather than later to ease the growing anger among suckler farmers all over the country.”

He said some media outlets platform plant-based fake burgers, and the Climate Change Advisory Council “being openly hostile to sucklers are bad enough”.

“Would you blame suckler farmers for feeling paranoid when it now seems that Teagasc is against them as well?”

“Teagasc cannot continue with an agenda of encouraging suckler farmers to sell their cows and rear badly bred dairy calves instead.”

Dairy-beef production

Kelleher continued: “Teagasc should start by confronting the reality that the dairy herd focus on milk solids to the detriment of all other traits is not the suckler farmer’s problem.”

He said it simply is not economically sustainable to rear Jersey and Kiwi cross calves for beef. “No amount of dressing up systems with high-stocking rates is going to change that.”

“In fact, it is laughable that Teagasc is essentially suggesting that medium and lower intensity suckler farmers should abandon that system to adopt a high-chemical fertiliser system of rearing dairy calves.”

“Not only will this be economically futile, but it will create further problems down the line from an environmental perspective.”

Kelleher believes the minister needs to acknowledge that suckler farming is the “logical” system for many farmers on fragmented and smaller holdings.

“In some cases, this will be combined with off-farm income, and there is nothing wrong with that.”

The vegan agenda and anti-suckler narrative

More importantly, he pointed out, suckler-bred beef is the most environmentally friendly and the most animal welfare-friendly system. The farm group believes Bord Bia and beef factories should market this under a premium brand.

“We need a coherent approach to fight the militant vegan agenda, backed by big businesses that have invested billions in fake alternatives to natural meat.”

“But the immediate task must be to put a stop to the anti-suckler narrative. ICSA is calling on the minister to fully adopt our proposals on sucklers in the national CAP plan,” he concluded.

What has ICSA proposed?

The ICSA has called for a €300/cow suckler payment in its CAP Strategic Plan submission.

It has proposed a suckler cow variable premium worth around €120/cow calved. This is in addition to BDGP/BEEP type scheme, which can, in total, deliver €300 per suckler cow.

The ICSA has proposed the following in respect of the suckler sector:

  • 25% top-up for suckler cows to a maximum 40 cows (about €30 + €120). Period: Up to five years under the variable suckler cow payment;
  • An early retirement scheme for those aged 55 and over amounting to €100/cow for 5 years. Purpose: To enable young farmers can expand suckler herds.

Read the farm group’s submission.

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