The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) has lost the dressing room with suckler farmers over its changes to the beef indexes which came into effect this week, a meeting of 300 farmers in Carrick-on-Shannon heard on Tuesday night.
Roscommon suckler farmer Bernard Donohoe made a passionate plea from the floor for the ICBF to communicate better with farmers.
“ICBF needs to start listening to farmers.
“Without farmers, ye won’t make progress so for God’s sake change your ways or we’ll go nowhere. Ye have lost the dressing room at the moment,” he said.
Other farmers said they were genuinely contemplating their future in the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme in light of this week’s changes, while there was severe criticism of the makeup of the ICBF board.
Leitrim farmer Maureen Tully attacked the current farmer representatives on the board who in her opinion were “asleep at the wheel” when it came to representing suckler farmers.
Speaking directly to ICBF CEO Seán Coughlan, Leitrim IFA chair Liam Gilligan, who organised the meeting, said: “I am asking ICBF to make a special dispensation for the suckler farmers participating in SCEP who are affected by these changes. We have to see some action out of this meeting.”
Addressing farmer concerns Coughlan said: “There will be no need for any farmer to change their preferred breed if they don’t wish to. Continental breeding has dominated suckler systems and it will continue to in the future.”
Late last week, the Irish Pedigree Breeders Council went so far as to vote on taking out a court injunction against the rollout of the updated figures.
The proposal got the support of three breed societies; the Irish Charolais Cattle Society, the Irish Simmental Cattle Society and the Irish Blonde d’Aquitaine society, but failed to get the full backing of the council.