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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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‘The only premium they would be able to give for organic cattle would be for P1 cows’

A question from the floor unearthed conversations around organic beef during Beef Plan’s virtual AGM last Friday (December 9th, 2022).

A farmer asked the organisation’s chair, Eamon Corley, for EIBP’s (Emerald Isle Beef Producers) stance on possibly securing outlets for organic beef cattle in the future.

A farmer said that “currently, there is a huge drive on there, at the moment, for farmers to go organic, but at the same time, that does not match the marketplace that is out there”.

“There is no better person than a farmer to take up an offer of a business opportunity. But my point is that the hype around it is not matched in the marketplace, and I think it is a bit disingenuous of the whole game to try to get that out there.”

“The grants look very attractive, but at the end of the day, if you do not have a market, it is not very exciting,” the farmer commented.

Organic beef 

In response, Eamon Corley told the meeting that he previously staged discussions with a meat processor, currently not involved in the sale of organic beef, regarding the development of a possible outlet.

“I did ask the question of the factory if they would be interested in buying organic cattle off us, and I was told the only premium that they would be able to give for organic cattle at the moment would be for P1 cows.”

“The factory said that organic mince is the only thing that they could get a premium on, and they could not get it on top-quality suckler animals or steak or anything like that.”

“They said to me that if I could get them fifty P1 cows every week and guarantee him fifty P1 cows every week, he would kill them for us as a group and would pay us a premium.”

“To get them, I would have to talk to a lot of dairy farmers, and they would have to be organic dairy farmers, so whether that ever happens or not, I am not sure.”

“There is stuff like multi-species swards that dairy farmers, in theory, could become organic by using, but he was of the opinion that there will not be a huge premium for organic cattle going forward.”

“He thinks that the market is just not there to pay for it. We were talking to the owner who has nine meat factories, and that was his opinion,” he concluded.

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