IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods has described proposals to cut the national suckler cow herd from the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) as, “unacceptable, lazy and flawed”.
He called on the Agriculture Minister, Michael Creed to immediately reject these discriminatory and nonsensical proposals.
“Minister Creed is on record as saying there is no Government agenda to cut the suckler herd. The Minister needs to make it clear that this report from the CCAC is not Government policy, and that he will not be supporting it”.
“In a report commissioned by IFA in 2018, UCC Prof. Thia Hennessey calculated that a 50 % cut in the suckler cow herd would result in a €1.5bn reduction to national economic output, with up to 80% of the impact in western counties from Donegal to Kerry,” he said.
“It is totally wrong and unfair of the CCAC to try and push all of the weight of climate change on top of the suckler cow herd. The Council ignores the hard work of suckler farmers in addressing climate change.”
He said suckler cow farmers are the leaders in agriculture in terms of tackling climate change.
Under the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP), the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) are estimating a 14% reduction in Green House Gas (GHG) emissions from sucklers by 2030.
Angus Woods pointed out that this is before other technologies are adopted and deployed.
“In marginal land areas, suckler and sheep farming are the only options because of land type. Suckler and sheep farming are essential to the socio-economic and environmental sustainability of rural areas. Contrary to the views of the CCAC, suckler and sheep farming are vital in terms of maintaining the environment, the biodiversity and preventing land abandonment.”
He said the fall in suckler cow numbers of 14% over the last decade, has already left some areas with real socio-economic problems.
The IFA Livestock leader pointed out that Irish beef farmers are amongst the most carbon efficient food producers in the world, due our grass-based model of food production.
“Reducing the Irish suckler herd will result in an increase in global emissions through carbon leakage, as beef would be produced in countries with less sustainable systems,” Angus Woods concluded.