Ireland’s suckler farmers are totally dependent on payments and subsidies for their income, writes Ger O’Brien, ICSA suckler chair.
Their profit monitor has turned into a loss monitor. Even the most efficient on good land, good grass management and quality well-bred herds with compact calving cannot their cover the cost of production.
Teagasc figures show this, but it is my understanding that a cost for land or labour is not included. If these costs were added, the figures would be even more dismal.
So, what is the answer? We take control of our own destiny. We can control costs inside our farm gate but have no control for the price we get outside our gate.
Horace Plunkett started the co-op movement in 1919 with 5,000 pounds that he raised, which in today’s money is approximately €259,850.
So, what I propose is we start back at basics. We need 260 farmers first to start the co-op with €1,000 each of their own money to develop a suckler brand of beef with the help of Enterprise Ireland.
Only single-suckled animals verified by DNA, which can be obtained from the data from the BDGP scheme, which have no dairy influence for three generations, fattened by the suckler farmer or finished off grass and if concentrates are needed are only of Irish grains, with native beans peas or lupins added for protein, should be eligible.
We market this beef as carbon neutral, GM-free and also because it is grass-fed is higher in key nutrients, including antioxidants, vitamins and a beneficial acid called CLA which improves immunity and anti-inflammation.
Something this good has to be sold at a premium with the high-end discerning customer. So, join ICSA and together we will make this happen.
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