IFA Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden said we are at a critical time of year for suckler and beef farmers, where key decisions will determine the supply of beef for the next three years.
“These decisions require a commitment from the suckler farmer to maintain the cow until she has reared the calf to weaning in the back end of 2023, which is 18 months away. The uncertainty around availability and costs of inputs such as feed, fertiliser and fuel will play a huge role in this decision making,” he said.
Brendan Golden said the sector does not have the capacity to absorb the level of cost increases across all the key inputs that show no signs of abating.
He said the sector must be supported directly as a matter of urgency to allow farmers plan the breeding season with confidence and ensure we do not lose any more critical mass in suckler cow numbers from the country.
“The lack of confidence in beef finishers for later this year and into next year is clearly evident in mart sales of lighter animals over the past two weeks. Prices for lighter stores have dropped as finishers react to the increased production costs and uncertainty for the year ahead,” he said.
Brendan Golden said contracted/guaranteed prices from factories for this Autumn and next Spring are needed, combined with direct financial supports to farmers rearing and finishing cattle for the back end of this year and early next year.
He said the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue must come forward immediately with a financial package for suckler farmers and cattle finishers from the €48m fund to allow key breeding and management decisions be taken that will maintain our supply chain of the highest quality beef in this critical time of food insecurity.
The monies clawed back from BEAM payments of suckler and beef farmers must also be returned to the sectors it was taken from as part of a package of targeted payments.
Brendan Golden was commenting following a COPA-COGECA of the Beef and Veal Group where similar concerns were raised for beef production across other member states.
He said the failure of EU policy in providing food security for the citizens of the EU and to support farmers in producing this food has been laid bare in this recent crisis.
The IFA Livestock Chairman said beef farmers throughout Europe are experiencing the very same difficulties as us in terms of production cost increases, but are more exposed on grain shortages than our grass-based system.