The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association have again warned of the dangers to the suckler sector by proposals from the Food Vision Climate Action Plan which the Association walked away from last November. “Of immediate concern for the suckler sector is the proposal to reduce the age of slaughter to under 24 months” , said INHFA President Vincent Roddy.
This proposal is, continued Roddy “an immediate threat to suckler farmers with larger carcass breeds that cannot be finished at the ages proposed but will also impact other areas of the beef industry by creating a glut of cattle for slaughter each Spring.”
These are, he added “issues of concern we raised last November and are issues that have also been raised by many others since. Unfortunately, the Minister seems determined to persist with this proposal irrespective of these concerns which clearly undermines a stated objective of his – that being to protect the suckler sector.”
In assessing the proposal and specifically the reasoning behind it the INHFA President was adamant that slaughtering younger cattle with much lighter carcasses will do nothing to reduce emissions and could in fact see emissions increase. When assessing this we must, he added “assess the efficiency of the animal in producing a kilo of beef rather than the age of the animal which is currently proposed.”
“Beyond this we must also recognise how a 24-month slaughter date will reduce farmer’s ability to maximise beef gain from grass by ruling out the second grazing season” added the INHFA Leader.This he stressed “goes totally against the sustainable farming model as it will involve feeding high levels of concentrates thus increasing the overall emissions.”
With regard to the proposed cull of suckler cows the INHFA President welcomed the decision from the Minister to scrap this proposal.This he stated “if introduced would do enormous reputational damage to our naturally reared suckler beef sector and was something we discussed in length with the Minister prior to Christmas.”
Following on from this decision we are, he added “now calling on the Minister to use the money planned for the reduction and exit proposal to support our suckler sector through a new welfare type suckler scheme targeting extensive suckler systems. Such support in conjunction with an aggressive marketing campaign can help deliver a sustainable future for our suckler farmers and the communities they support.”
In concluding the INHFA President called on the Minister to look again at the science that is promoting the reduction in the age of slaughter and to give strong consideration to a new welfare suckler scheme across our extensive suckler systems.