ICSA calls for dairy-style relief for suckler sector

Suckler farmers need a €200 per suckler cow incentive to voluntarily reduce numbers in light of oversupply of beef in Europe, says ICSA suckler chairman Dermot Kelleher.
ICSA calls for dairy-style relief for suckler sector

He says that 200,000 more cattle will go for slaughter in 2017 than in 2015. He said a voluntary five-year EU-wide scheme is needed to address profitability challenges in the sector.

“We need to learn from the strategy applied at EU level to deal with the dairy crisis in 2016 where the strategy was a rational move to reduce production to deal with the supply/demand imbalance,” said Mr Kelleher.

“With continued uncertainty about live exports particularly to traditionally important markets like Italy, it is abundantly clear that the only way to deliver farm viability is scarcity.

"Farm organisations have to take a responsible attitude on basic economic principles that will address the profitability question above all other considerations,” he said.

Mr Kelleher said the proposed scheme would expose the hypocrisy of Food Wise 2025 expansion targets by sending out a clear signal that anything less than €200 per cow net profit is unacceptable.

He said suckler profitability has been made impossible due to the introduction of penalties on the payment grid for high- quality heavy carcasses, the ongoing 30-month cut off, the “racket” of four residencies and the impact of Brexit on price.

Mr Kelleher said it would also be necessary to deal with the surge of so-called bobby calves from the dairy herd. With the increasing trend towards cross breeding using a combination of Holstein and Jersey genetics there is a glut of male calves totally unsuitable for any sort of viable beef production system.

The options are exporting them for veal, veal systems in Ireland or disposal through the knackery system.

Meanwhile, IFA livestock chairman Angus Woods said the cattle trade is stronger this week with factories paying a base of €3.80 for steers and €3.90 for heifers.

He said deals on prices and payment for transport or flat prices are also more common as feeders are demanding more.

Mr Woods said prices need to kick on again this week and feeders need a real price rise to lift them out of a lossmaking situation feeding cattle. He said, based on returns from our largest export market in Britain, factories are in a strong position to increase prices to winter finishers.

He said prices for young bulls are running at €390/3.95 for U grades, €3.80/3.85 for R grades and €3.70 for O grades. He said cow prices are ranging from €3.00/3.05 for P+ grades, €3.10/3.15 for Os, €3.35/3.40 for Rs and €3.40/3.45 for U grades.

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