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Tackling the major problem of low incomes on cattle farms must become the key livestock policy focus for the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed under Food Wise 2025, according to IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods. “Minister Creed has to change the focus of Food Wise on livestock, away from more exports for factories to fair incomes for farmers.”

The IFA Livestock leader was speaking following the submission of the Food Wise High Level Meats Group report to Minister Creed by the Chairman Michael Dowling.

Angus Woods welcomed the key issue on beef identified by all stakeholders as ‘introducing targeted support for sucklers’ in line with IFA policy. He said the Group accepted such measures, in addition to providing income support, should be clearly geared towards bringing environment and welfare quality benefits. The Group also considered the introduction of adding a welfare criterion under some form of enhanced BDGP scheme.

Angus Woods said the Food Wise group stressed that beef from the suckler herd is of ‘critical importance for the international marketability of Irish beef abroad and for the health and viability of the rural economy in large parts of the country’.  It stressed, however, that very low profitability will inevitably lead to a sharp drop in suckler output which will undermine the prospect of it making a viable contribution to the Foodwise ambitions for this sector.

The IFA Livestock leader said the Food Wise group also made some recommendations about improving the quality of dairy bred beef, genomic verification, grass fed beef and generational change.

Angus Woods said Brexit was identified as the main challenge across all the meat sectors of beef, sheep, pig meat and poultry. Brexit uncertainty should also necessitate the adoption of defensive positions in relation to EU trade deals with Mercusor, Australia and New Zealand, according to industry.  He said for sustainability at farm level, it is essential to secure beef prices above the cost of production and protect and maintain direct supports under CAP and the farm schemes.

IFA President Joe Healy has invited all farmers to attend a major IFA/Farmers Journal meeting entitled Supporting Suckling 2017 to be held in the Balla Mart Co Mayo on Tuesday 24th January at 7pm.

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Speaking at the Newford suckler herd Open Day in Teagasc, Athenry Co Galway,  IFA President Joe Healy said increased targeted direct supports will be essential to maintain our quality suckler cow herd, which is the backbone of Ireland’s €2.3bn beef and livestock sector.

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