IFA President Joe Healy has launched a new report on The Economic and Societal Importance of the Irish Suckler Beef Herd by Professor Thia Hennessy, Head of the Business School in UCC at the FBD National Livestock in Tullamore Co Offaly.
With a strong campaign for increased support for sucklers and rising expectation on Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to deliver in the forthcoming Budget, Joe Healy said, “Minister Creed must front up and beat down the door of Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to ensure that additional support for the suckler cow is delivered in the October Budget”.
He said a key priority in the IFA’s pre-Budget submission is the demand for a targeted payment of €200 per suckler cow.
Some of the key findings in the IFA commissioned report by Professor Hennessy include;
- The beef sector in Ireland is very significant, accounting for over one-third of all agricultural output and over 20% of total Irish food and drink exports.
- The value of beef sector is €2.9bn, with exports growing and exceeding €2.6bn in 2017.
- The suckler cow herd is distributed throughout the country, but is particularly dominant in the West, where suckler cows account for over 80% of total cows.
- 77,738 cattle farmers make a considerable contribution to the Irish local economy, both through the inputs they purchase and the outputs produced. Cattle farmers spend over €1.5bn annually on agri-inputs, most of which is spent in the local rural economy.
- The multiplier effect for the beef sector is greater than that of the agriculture sector in general – a €1m increase in beef sector output would generate a further €2.11m in the wider economy.
- Suckler farmers contribute to wider societal sustainability, particularly in marginal or economically disadvantaged areas, where their presence is vital to the social fabric and cultural capital.
- Ireland punches above its weight when it comes to beef exports, being the largest exporter of beef in the EU and the sixth largest exporter of beef in the world.
- We produce some of the world’s most sustainable beef, with our carbon footprint the fifth lowest in Europe and almost one quarter of the Brazilian footprint for beef.
- The income situation on suckler farms is unsustainable, with the Teagasc National Farm survey for 2017 showing an average income of only €12,529 in 2017.
- A number of factors threaten the Irish suckler herd and its future development and sustainability such as Brexit, Mercosur and CAP budget cuts.
- A 10% contraction in the suckler herd would lead to a loss in beef output of €145m and a loss of total output in the economy of €305m.
- Without positive action there will be implications for the farming community, the vibrancy of rural areas, the agri-input sector, employment in the beef processing sector and the value of exports.
IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said the national suckler herd is the backbone of our €2.9bn beef sector. “There is beef farming in every rural parish in every county across the country”.
He said Minister Creed and the Government must respond positively in the Budget to the demand for a targeted payment of €200 per cow. He said there was a majority backing in the Dáil for this support earlier this year.
Angus Woods said the IFA proposal to Government is for a targeted payment of €200 per suckler cow, structured under environmental and animal welfare measures in the CAP Rural Development Programme and financed predominantly from national resources and savings from the existing RDP schemes. He said this would have no impact on the Basic Payment to farmers under CAP Pillar I.
As part of the IFA campaign, farmers and IFA officers in all counties will undertake an intensive local lobby of all politicians over the next number of weeks leading up to the Budget on October 9th.
IFA will hold a full national lobby of all TDs and Senators in Dublin on September 26th.