2020 vision for beef

THE 2020 Committee believes beef output can be grown 20% in value.

It also sets targets of €300m of added value in Ireland by finishing younger cattle which are being live exported, and it quotes the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation’s target to increase profitability of the suckler cow herd could by €200m.

It is acknowledged that most beef farms are loss making, but the committee says the best route to viability must be found for the most possible beef farmers.

Measures to support beef cow numbers and encourage winter fattening are called for. For the mainstay steer and heifer production, earlier slaughtering and more efficient grass and feed-based systems are recommended.

The improved feed conversion of young bull beef production should be availed of, and encouraged through enhanced research and clear price incentives.

*Milk: While dairy prices are expected to rise, simultaneous increases in the costs of agricultural production are predicted by the 2020 committee.

A farm cost structure that will provide viable farm incomes and sustain the family farm model is recommended. Effective EU measures to mitigate price and income volatility will be important.

Nationally, land availability and optimum processing capacity will have to be addressed.

The committee believes milk production can be increased 50% by 2020 (compared to the 2007 to 2009 period).

This 2.75 billion litre increase would enhance the farm gate value of milk by about €700m.

Milk processing should be controlled by a small number of operators who have the scale and culture to drive efficiency and value added in line with key international competitors.

The 2020 committee said it will cost about €400m to invest in processing capacity for more milk, when quotas end in 2015.

On dairy farms, the committee highlights the need for best-practice animal health approaches, genetic improvement, and a more flexible and fully national milk quota trading scheme for the rest of the milk quota regime.

Teagasc should set a target of 9,000 progressive milk suppliers participating in discussion groups, implementing advanced production techniques, and preparing management accounts for their enterprises.

*Funding: In general for farmers, it is recommended that the role of risk management strategies, such as farm insurance to cover production and market risks, should be examined, particularly in the context of the CAP post-2013 deliberations.

Irish banks should examine the scope for more use of mechanisms such as chattel mortgages and invoice discounting.

Chattel mortgages are secured with a mortgage over the purchased property for which the loan is required.

Invoice discounting is a form of short-term borrowing of money against sales invoices, before the customer has paid. The business borrows a percentage of the value of its sales ledger from a finance company, effectively using the unpaid sales invoices as collateral.

*Research: The committee said Teagasc research should prioritise animal breeding; grass breeding, evaluation and utilisation; environmental research relating to climate change and water quality; tillage and bio-energy research; and analysis of policy changes and market developments in agriculture and farming. The dairy and beef sectors should aim to be global leaders in genomics.


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