I wish to refer to your article on page 6 of last week’s edition of the Irish Farmers Journal in relation to the latest proposal to cap the suckler cow herd by default, with the proposed conditions attaching to the new suckler scheme.

The proposal in itself defies logic in a number of ways. In recent years, we have seen a decline of 10% at least in the suckler herd and at this stage, the majority of the suckler herd is located in the west of Ireland and I would argue that it is the enterprise most suitable to a lot of the land type in the western part of our country.

I believe the following needs to be considered:

  • 1 The vast majority of suckler farms do not require any reduction in fertiliser usage as most if not all are under 170kg threshold and do not require derogation. Indeed, a very high percentage would be a lot lower than 170kg.
  • 2 Most herds are on marginal land and fragmented holdings with a huge level of biodiversity and hedgerows already in place.
  • 3 Many of these herds have helped to maintain many of our SAC areas over the last number of years.
  • 4 How many of our suckler herds are based in areas of high nitrogen sensitive areas for our watercourses?
  • 5 All this proposal does is pit suckler v dairy farmers which is of no benefit to anyone.
  • I firmly believe that this proposal is divisive and the decision to decrease or increase suckler cow numbers should be an individual farmer decision.

    This is a further attack on the west of Ireland as we have already seen the impact of forestry licences not being issued.


    The level of natural biodiversity in many western counties is massive and I believe that the west of Ireland would be carbon neutral in relation to agriculture if we are to believe the experts who claim that biodiversity and forestry are the way forward.

    All farming organisations need to come together to make sure this never becomes a reality and should our Department be allowed to get away with this crazy proposal, what next?