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Retaining 100% of your BPS should be every farmer’s primary goal

In this article, the Irish Beef and Lamb Association discusses the need for forward contracts for beef and lamb.

Forward contracts for beef and lamb are a “fundamental” requirement to insulate farmers in the supply chain.

We, the Beef & Lamb Association – IBLA –attended the Teagasc winter beef finishing seminar held at Cillin Hill, Kilkenny, earlier this week.

There is nothing new being proposed for winter finishing of cattle, as farmers will continue to be expected to carry 100% of the risk of finishing cattle this winter, with no forward contracts available yet.

Farmers need to evaluate, as the Revenue deadline for tax returns approaches, if they will have retained 100% of their BPS in the previous year.

If they did not keep 100% of their BPS, they have handed over their money for someone else’s benefit in the food supply chain, be it retailers, processors, feed and fertiliser merchants or agri contractors.

Forward contracts

Supply contracts with inflation and deflation clauses should now be considered a fundamental necessity to have in place before farmers commit to continue production as normal.

In this new era in farming, it should not be assumed that farmers will continue as they have done previously, whilst carrying 100% of the financial risk.

As MII were reminded during the beef protests in 2019 that there is no obligation on farmers to sell cattle to processors.

The wider food supply chain should appreciate that there is also no obligation or duty expected on Irish farmers to continue to feed Europe at their personal loss.


Retaining 100% of your BPS should be every farmer’s primary goal, and with the minimum stocking rate of 0.10 Lu/Ha, that is necessary to draw down EU funding.

Why would farmers continue work and then hand over the money they have received from Europe to someone else?

The message from Teagasc was clear regarding the importance of technical efficiency at farm level and the importance of high genetic merit in animals being finished in what they described as ‘high-risk intensive finishing systems’.

However, what was notably missing, was information on the corresponding carbon footprint per KG of beef produced from intensive meal-fed beef as opposed to extensive grass-fed beef.

There appears to be a narrative coming through that meal feeding is ‘better’, which begs the question, is ‘better’ for who?

Well, certainly not the farmers that are not retaining 100% of their BPS.

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