Sustainable suckler sector must be protected says INHFA

The recently published Teagasc report (Marginal Abatement Cost Curve – MACC) must not become the basis for the delivery of Ireland’s climate targets maintains the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA).

The report that details the need for a further reduction of 29% in our suckler herd to help the agriculture sector meet the 2030 emissions target is “a terrifying prospect that must not be entertained” says INHFA Vice President Micheal McDonnell.

Speaking on this, McDonnell pointed to the sustainable nature of suckler farming and detailed how “despite seeing a reduction in suckler numbers over the last number of years’ agriculture has still seen an increase in Co2 emissions.” On this basis we must recognise how further reductions will probably be counter-productive as they will be off-set by increases in other farming sectors. “

It is, he continued, “essential that everyone appreciates the vital role our suckler sector is contributing in terms of support to the rural economy and its continued marketability in terms of animal welfare and sustainability.”

This sustainability is, he stressed, “evident in schemes such as the new Eco-scheme where many have chosen the extensive grazing measure that requires a stocking density of less than 1.2LU/Ha.” If we are, he added, “serious about supporting sustainable farming practices, then any farmer with a stocking rate below this level must be exempted from any reduction.”

In relation to the new National Suckler Scheme that will succeed BEEP the INHFA leader was adamant that the scheme must be available to all suckler farmers and a budget to facilitate this. It must also, he stated “have measures that are accessible to all farmers and while there has been talk of a payment rate of €60/cow we would like to see that increased and definitely believe a higher rate should be paid on the first ten cows.”

In conclusion McDonnell returned to the theme of sustainability detailing how suckler branded beef has massive growth potential due to the combination of sustainable environmental practices and favourable welfare practices that keeps the calf with its mother. This he maintained is vital and “that is why it is essential that the benefits from any suckler branding is available to all suckler farmers.”