Farmers applaud beef club stability

Jim Bergin, Chief Executive of Glanbia Ireland, Michael Creed TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and John Horgan, Chief Executive of Kepak Group. Picture: Finbarr O'Rourke

Farmers have welcomed the launch of Glanbia Ireland and Kepak’s new Twenty20 Beef Club, offering members a guaranteed market for their heifers and steers.

The club is open to Glanbia Co-op members and current Kepak suppliers. Year one’s initial pilot programme has a target of 6,000 calves from Glanbia Ireland supplier dairy farms in the Republic of Ireland, rising to 50,000 calves by 2022.

Jim Bergin, CEO, Glanbia Ireland, said: “It provides our farmer suppliers the opportunity to produce beef in a model focused on ensuring both economic and environmental sustainability.”

Members can be either dairy farmers or beef finishers, with a minimum of 25 calves per farm. In the sample provided, a 335kg Angus calf slaughtered in April at a 4€/kg market price would be worth €1,484 to the farmer, with the club bonus.

In a world-first in the beef sector, farmers have the option of an advanced payment of up to €770 per animal to provide cashflow during the animal’s lifetime, payable at €35 per animal per month from months three to 24.

The club has been praised for bringing certainty to farmers, and for setting key economic and environmental performance targets with the five-year programme.

The club aims to reduce the slaughter of its cattle to 24 months on average. It is aiming to reduce carbon footprint by using methane-reducing feed additives, to improve feed conversion efficiency, to reduce feed waste and to improve fertility across the herd.

ICOS president, Michael Spellman, said: “The programme provides a valuable, additional outlet for calves from the dairy herd, with significant cashflow benefits and a structure that gives a form of guaranteed future pricing.” Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, said the Twenty20 Beef Club will benefit both beef and dairy farmers.

IFA president, Joe Healy, said said the club represented much-needed new thinking for the sector.

ICMSA’s livestock chairman, Des Morrison, said that it was a positive step that recognised the value of dairy beef production.

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