Beef, suckler and sheep farmers can’t be expected to “carry the load on climate action”, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) has warned.

ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham said that unless such farmers can make an income, “climate change actions are a complete waste of time”.

He was speaking following Thursday’s meeting of the beef vision group, at which he said the ICSA “will not agree” to any measures proposed “unless the process is focused on the importance of the farmer”.

Measures demanded

Describing his association’s views on the work of the group, Graham said “no [emissions reduction] measure should be even considered without a proper economic impact assessment of how it impacts farm incomes and the rural economy”.

He called for the introduction of a “voluntary scheme” for the earlier finishing of cattle and suggested that this “must cover young bull production and finishing steers and heifers in the 24- to 28-month range”.

The ICSA beef chair said all calves from the dairy herd, which are destined for beef systems in Ireland, should be genotyped and that all factory price cuts should be reversed.

He warned that meat processors must fulfil their commitment to the live weighing of cattle in factories and to share that information with their farmer suppliers. He also said a commitment is required to review the pricing on the 2= fat score.

Sheep and beef farmers can't deliver on climate action measures if they're losing money, says the ICSA.

Finally, Graham said that the ICSA is seeking a guarantee that there will be “no enforced cuts to the suckler herd”.

Farmers can’t lose money

“There is no point expecting farmers in the cattle and sheep sectors to deliver on climate action if they are losing money.

“Active beef producers have already lost out heavily on convergence in the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and will lose even more money in the coming years.

"That is the reality we are dealing with, so unless our beef, suckler and sheep farmers are profitable, they cannot be expected to carry the load on climate action.

“[The] ICSA has consistently argued that if live exports of calves and weanlings are stopped, there is absolutely no hope of getting anywhere near the 25% target,” Graham said.

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