IFA Says Farm Profit Increase Essential to Drive Food Harvest, Beef Growth

IFA National Livestock Chairman Michael Doran said to deliver on the increased growth targets for beef of 40% in Food Harvest 2020, profit levels across all beef enterprises must increase significantly. He said lack of profit or low profit is the biggest obstacle to growth.

Michael Doran said the Report from the Food Harvest 2020 beef implementation group chaired by Michael Dowling was an important document on the future of the Irish beef and livestock sector. It contains a number of positive recommendations to drive growth and expansion in the sector. He said the IFA focus is firmly on increasing farm profit.

The IFA Livestock Chairman said strong viable cattle prices on a par with UK levels and the prices paid in our main EU export markets are essential for growth and farm profitability. “Maintaining these price levels is essential for profit. This is the challenge to the factories and it must be delivered on.” He said Irish beef is now on the shelves of the main UK and EU retail multiples. Irish farmers are now entitled to EU prices.

Michael Doran said it is a major concern for farmers, that when cattle supplies exceed 30,000 head per week, prices always come under pressure.

The IFA Livestock Leader said Ireland must to be very careful about the projected expansion in dairy beef. He said, “First of all it must be profitable. Secondly, it cannot be used to undermine prices. That is exactly what happened in the UK, when farmers were encouraged by processors and supermarkets to keep dairy calves to beef. It proved to be a costly experience for all beef farmers.”

Michael Doran said price competition is essential for the beef sector. Live Exports are fundamental to price competition and market outlets.

The IFA man said we must have more certainty for winter finishers.  Winter finishers need to be able to avail of the recommendation in the report of a winter finishing minimum price, from the factories this autumn.

On marketing and An Bord Bia’s role, Michael Doran called for a strategy which will capture the benefits of our positive image as a producer of top quality sustainable beef in the market place and ensure these benefits are passed back to producers.

On the Quality Payment System the Committee’s recommendation to extend it to bulls should be implemented without delay. The group should have resolved the issue on the inspec quality assurance bonus for dairy cattle.

Michael Doran welcomed the major importance attached to expanding the suckler cow herd and the retention of the suckler cow welfare scheme. He said the sucker herd is critical to the future of the Irish beef industry. He also welcomes the recommendation for a sizable coupled suckler cow premium post CAP 2013.

Michael Doran said the recommendation to protect the level of direct payments to beef and livestock farmers is positive. The report highlights that Single Farm Payment amounts to €850m for beef and livestock farmers. This recommendation also covers the SCWS, Disadvantaged Areas and REPS/AEOS. He said beef and livestock farmers couldn’t afford any cuts to these schemes.

Michael Doran said IFA has campaigned hard for discussion groups for beef as they have an important role to play in improving profit. It is very important these groups are independent.”

The IFA Livestock leader said Teagasc has a crucial role to play in research and advice. ”We need a blueprint and service which will deliver on the €1,000 per hectare gross margin identified in Grange as achievable on beef farms. “

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