The Irish Beef and Lamb Association has said it would like to see the incoming head of Teagasc allow beef researchers “a free hand to generate a strategic plan to develop and grow our suckler-beef industry”.
It issued a statement in light of comments outgoing Teagasc director, Gerry Boyle, made concerning suckler farmers rearing dairy-beef calves.
The IBLA, in a statement, explained that it is “dismayed but not surprised by some of Professor Boyle’s recent comments regarding the rearing of dairy-beef by our suckler farmers”.
“Of particular note was Professor Boyle’s encouragement to suckler farmers to rear dairy-beef calves. The science and facts do not support this opinion.”
The group said Dr Pearse Kelly has carried out some “excellent” work in this area, which can “be seen and read by all”.
“The overarching science and facts have repeatedly reported that rearing dairy-beef is not sustainable or viable. In fact, they suggest the contrary.”
“If we look back on the extensive reporting on the rearing of dairy beef, it is widely reported that it is not economically viable.”
“Irish farmers have been cautioned that some of these calves would require a payment of up to €200 going with them at acquisition to break even. “
“These facts, the science, the associated studies, tell us and which is borne out in the meat processing industry, that carcasses from dairy-beef do not hit the targets for this to be a viable enterprise.”
“Our suckler beef is the cornerstone on which our beef industry was founded. Most farming enterprises operate in the hope of making a profit.”
“The dairy industry has been very fortunate to have had so many resources and so much research on every facet of dairying available to those who participate and are involved in milk production.
Concluding the Irish Beef and Lamb Association, said:
“It is no surprise that in the springtime, the most important thing on any dairy farmer’s mind is to calve their cows and get rid of as many and all of dairy-beef calves to someone else so that the calves would live and hope to make a profit at the mercy of the processing industry.”
Professor Gerry Boyle’s remarks
“I see nothing wrong with advocating an alternative – not to the exclusion of sucklers – of dairy-beef, for example.”
“I see nothing wrong with advocating that farmers consider contract rearing of heifers or, indeed, male calves as long as there is profit in it. In other words, as long as those enterprises offer an alternative livelihood.”
Later in the exchange, he added: “As I said earlier, there is a strong future for suckling.”
“I believe it will be maintained in the traditional areas. I accept that a premium price is required for a premium product.”
“There will be alternatives in dairy-beef and so on. It is not that long ago that the country managed quite well with substantially fewer suckler cows,” he added.