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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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‘A lot of speculation that the suckler herd will be sacrificed to maintain dairy numbers’

In this article, ICSA president, Dermot Kelleher, shares his views on the Food Vision process.

Our association would not accept any proposal from the Food Vision process that makes suckler farming the fall guy for the climate targets.

There has been a lot of speculation that the suckler herd will be sacrificed to maintain dairy numbers.

This is an exaggeration of what is going on. However, ICSA is adamant that it will only support a final Food Vision agreement provided that the suckler, beef, and sheep sectors get fair play and that there is a strategy to allow expansion for those who want to.

It is vital that suckler farming is kept going, especially in many parts of the country where it is the only viable option.

ICSA will insist that this must be central to any decisions.

The beef finishing sector needs access to the type of high-merit stock produced by suckler farmers, and it is a vital component of our beef exports.

Suckler cow numbers 

The truth is that the suckler herd has already fallen in numbers, so it is simply not true to blame sucklers when it comes to climate targets.

In any event, we all need to stand up for our livestock farming systems which are not the major cause of global warming that some commentators like to portray.

The facts are that the national herd is essentially stable since 1973, during which time world population doubled.

A key element will be proposals to help the beef finishing sector. This sector has got nothing out of the CAP Strategic Plan.

In fact, the beef finishing sector has been hardest hit by convergence of Pillar 1 payments.

The sector is also challenged by the ever-worsening beef merit in the dairy herd, and this will have to be addressed.

In our view, this will require genotyping of all calves from the dairy herd destined for beef finishing.

The suckler herd will also need further support. It is regrettable that the ICSA proposals for a coupled payment for sucklers in the CAP reform was not supported by any other farm organisation.

However, ICSA is still fighting for extra support for the suckler sector, and we are actively engaging with the DAFM in relation to the budget allocation for sucklers.

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