IFA Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden said livestock farmers are already seeing the impact of the inputs crisis at the marts, where lack of confidence and uncertainty has seen prices for lighter store cattle drop over the past week.
He said measures put forward Fodder and Food Security Committee must focus on supporting suckler and beef farmers.
“Incentives to grow extra tillage are important, but the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue must ensure these measures, and those to grow extra fodder, don’t displace cattle rearing and finishing systems,” he said.
He said the trading of animals is a critical component of the livestock sector and the removal of grassland from this system, either through planting of crops or redirecting grass to other sectors, can have very serious consequences.
The IFA Livestock Chairman said immediate and direct financial supports must be provided to farmers to offset the increased costs for feed, fertiliser and fuel on suckler, cattle rearing and finishing farms.
“These supports must be paid directly to farmers based on their level of production,” he said.
Brendan Golden said it’s vital that cattle continue to be finished in line with our well-established production systems. These have delivered a consistent year-round supply of beef and have been fundamental to securing key export markets.
“We are already seeing farmers stepping back from purchasing lighter stores and weanlings as the uncertainty and costs build,” he said.
“There is a real concern the trade of beef animals will be severely disrupted and in turn our supply chain for beef if there is a failure to put guarantees in place for farmers who are producing beef for this Autumn and next Spring,” he said.
The IFA Livestock Chairman also identified availability of key inputs and restrictions on land use under schemes, nitrates requirements and other legal obligations that must be removed to ensure farmers have all lands at their disposal to produce grass.
These include areas such as Wild Bird cover, traditional hay meadows and low input grasslands in the GLAS scheme and the removal of nitrates impediments, including derogation farmers and hedge cutting where necessary to maximise planting areas.