Still No Funding for Dairy Calf to Beef Programme

Commenting following the publication of the Ten-Point Action Plan on supporting Dairy Calf to Beef Systems in Ireland, IFA Livestock chair Declan Hanrahan said the plan still lacks the first and most fundamental component, which is a guaranteed return for the financial and labour investment required of farmers for almost two years.

Despite encouraging results from optimum trial conditions on a select few farms, over 60% of farmers exit this production system in five years. Without meaningful targeted funding, the plan will not provide a long-term sustainable solution for Dairy Calf to Beef Systems.

IFA has consistently called for a minimum of €100 per calf payment for farmers taking on the rearing of dairy beef calves.  This is the minimum level of funding that will be required in order for the system to be adopted on enough beef farms.

This payment must then be built on for the finishing stage and include calves from the suckler herd with another €100/animal payment.

IFA Dairy chair Stephen Arthur said within the 10-point plan there are almost 40 sub-actions outlined with the ambition to create a more vibrant dairy beef sector.

“We were forthright in our position that additional funds were needed to support this sector.  Without financial support all other actions become meaningless.”

“The consultation process was launched without the input of farm representatives in January, with only an online meeting provided to gather the views of farm organisations in February,” he said.

Clearly the key points put forward have fallen on deaf ears and what we have now been presented with is a plan with the same failings as the one originally put forward for the consultation process.

Stephen Arthur said we need a long-term sustainable plan for rearing dairy beef calves in this country which must in the first instance include maintaining and building on the key live export trade for these animals.

There is a need to have sustainable rearing systems for the calves that are not exported and critical to this is a financial support system for the farmers involved in rearing and finishing dairy beef calves.

“The Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue must come forward with a meaningful budget to support this plan and ensure we have a sustainable and economically viable system for rearing and finishing dairy beef calves for the farmers involved,” he concluded.

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