‘We need ac­tion on suck­ler sec­tor be­fore it is too late’

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS -

BY WAY of in­tro­duc­tion to your read­ers, my name is MJ Clery and I present a weekly agri pro­gramme on Mid­lands 103 ra­dio which cov­ers the coun­ties of Laois, Of­faly and West­meath. I re­cently in­ter­viewed Kevin McGuire, the Pres­i­dent of the Ir­ish Charo­lais So­ci­ety, in re­la­tion to a let­ter pub­lished in this news­pa­per on Au­gust 22.

Kevin gave an im­pas­sioned in­ter­view where he stated that suck­ler farm­ers were now the bot­tom rung of the beef ladder.

The morn­ing af­ter this in­ter­view, the phones in our stu­dio were ex­tremely busy with suck­ler farm­ers calling to com­mend Kevin’s com­ments and give their sup­port.

As a farmer who was raised on a suck­ler farm, I feel that these com­ments are not over the top and I agree with them.

We have heard fig­ures rang­ing from €600 to €700 to keep a suck­ler cow. How can a ge- neric fig­ure of this na­ture be given and farm­ers ex­pected to be­lieve it?

Each in­di­vid­ual en­ter­prise is to­tally dif­fer­ent, the ma­jor­ity of suck­ler farms are not costly sys­tems of pro­duc­tion.

I would ar­gue that on some farms, the cost of keep­ing a suck­ler cow could be half this fig­ure. The ICBF star rat­ings are an­other area which needs ex­am­i­na­tion, to re­it­er­ate a com­ment by Kevin, why are suck­ler farm­ers now be­ing force fed re­place­ments from the dairy herd?

Aberdeen An­gus heifers reg­u­larly come in at 4 or 5 star on the re­place­ment in­dex due to their high milk yields how­ever, in re­al­ity they will not be moth­ers to qual­ity cat­tle.

I have al­ways heard that it is not pos­si­ble ob­tain a U grade an­i­mal from any­thing less than an R grade cow.

Sim­ply put, I don’t be­lieve the ma­jor­ity of these re­place­ment heifers are good enough to pro­duce high qual­ity car­casses. Is the re­al­ity that it suits ev­ery­body in­volved in agri­cul­ture for Ire­land to be­come a large scale dairy na­tion? Farm­ers up to their eyes in debt, buy­ing in­puts, build­ing sheds and spend­ing money.

No thought given to these farm­ers in re­la­tion to the work life bal­ance. Push the suck­ler man out and leave room for these farm­ers who will make ev­ery­body more money. Qual­ity cat­tle are be­com­ing a thing of the past in marts.

What will oc­cur when a good suck­ler re­place­ment can­not be sourced and the smaller parcels of land in cer­tain ar­eas where suck­ler cows have been the liveli­hood for gen­er­a­tions are no more? Ru­ral Ire­land is al­ready on the verge of collapse and this is sim­ply an­other nail on the cof­fin. Its time to do some­thing be­fore its too late.

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