MacManus rejects notion that suckler farmers must move to dairy-beef model
Midlands Northwest MEP criticised Teagasc advice following a meeting with senior members of the Connacht and Galway IFA Executives in Athenry.
Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has said he rejects the notion that the suckler model should be abandoned and all beef farmers need to move to a dairy beef system. MacManus remarks come in response to Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc, advocating farmers should switch from beef cow production to dairy cow production as part of Ireland’s response to the climate crises.
MacManus made the comments following a meeting with senior members of the Connacht and Galway IFA Executives in Athenry. The Midlands Northwest MEP said:
“Many beef farmers in my constituency are disappointed with the remarks made by Professor Boyle. In my view, the products are different and both should have a place on supermarket shelves. The low carbon suckler production model is designed to have minimal impacts on soil health, water quality, air quality and biodiversity, while delivering beef grades of the highest quality.”
“This is a product that is in demand in European markets and is suited to the land conditions of my constituency. The sector has been the lifeblood of rural communities for generations and with time comes experience.”
“The dairy beef system will be a potential option for some farmers but it is not a panacea. The high cost of entering dairy combined with land quality issues will be a barrier for lots of farmers in my constituency. The average dry stock farm is growing around half the tonnage of grass needed per hectare to be an efficient dairy farm. You may well end up in a situation where the model is used all over the country, but the cost of production sharply differs, on a regional basis, leading to lower incomes in the west, border and north of the island.”
MacManus highlighted more sensible solutions to meeting Climate targets. “I am under no illusions about the climate change challenge, but the collapsing of the suckler sector to focus on servicing the diary sector is not the solution. EU consumers will still be demanding a premium beef product, that currently the suckler sector provides, and someone will fill that gap.”
“One avenue to have an impact on emissions is by the provision of greater information on the carbon footprint of the production model used. Facilitating consumers to choose the low carbon, grass-fed, model over imports that involve the destruction of the amazon rainforest in Brazil would be a start.”
“We also need to build on initiatives like the LIFE BEEF CARBON project, which is working on a cut of beef’s carbon footprint by 15% relative to the start year, 2016.”
The Midlands Northwest MEP concluded by encouraging a more holistic approach to finding solutions. “Every sector must play its part and no one measure will deliver the radical transformation required, but I am convinced the suckler beef sector deserves a future and can be sustainable. I am therefore calling on Teagasc to undertake the research required to create a future vision for the sector and end its policy of sectoral abandonment.” ENDS
Pictured in Athenry today L to R Pat Murphy Connaught IFA Chairman, James Ward Gurteen, Christy Burke Raford Kiltullagh, Chris MacMaus MEP, Louis O’ Hara Athenry and Anne Mitchell Galway IFA County Chairperson.