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Opinion: Suckler cow cap will hasten drive towards factory farm production

The Beef Plan Movement has called for a level playing field; equivalent treatment for suckler farmers with dairy and tillage farmers. A spokesperson shares the group’s views.

The Beef Plan Movement believes a move to set a cap on the herd size over the reference period will have a detrimental impact on the national beef herd and disproportionately disadvantage the suckler-beef farmer.

This approach is inconsistent with the criteria and requirements set out for the dairy and tillage sectors.

If the criteria, as set out, is implemented, the unique Irish suckler herd will be decimated, hastening the drive toward factory farm production.

Also, it will possibly encourage imports from other regions. This includes those with greater greenhouse gas emissions per kg of beef or lower farming standards.

There is a school of thought prevailing in Ireland that suckler-beef farming is more detrimental to the environment.

It appears that these misconceptions are being supported by the department’s approach to providing CAP support to the sector.

Greenhouse gas emissions

More recent research at Oxford University in the UK has highlighted flaws in the GWP 100 model. Submissions from the University of California Davis has urged European policymakers to carefully reflect on the use of the GWP100 convention for methane.

Besides, the intergovernmental panel on climate change has recently discussed and accepted the science as it relates to GWP.

This could have a considerable impact on the carbon footprint of suckler production, cutting greenhouse gas emissions per kg of beef by up to 50%.

Also, we urge the department to review and analyse these reports. We call on it to incorporate the latest and most accurate science before implementing requirements that drive the wrong outcomes for Irish agriculture.

Furthermore, the latest EU advice is that the top-performing dairy cattle produce 63% higher nitrates than the average suckler cow. Moreover, there is a direct correlation between nitrates and emissions; this needs to be addressed.

*This article contains part of Beef Plan’s submission on CAP, compiled by its suckler committee under chairman, Pat Nagle.

View more articles from the Beef Plan Movement.

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