Suckler farmers and pedigree breeders have gathered outside a key Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) stakeholder meeting in Tullamore on Thursday morning 22 February to vent fury over beef index changes.

This is the second meeting to take place since the ICBF introduced the changes last November, with representatives from pedigree breed societies, AI companies, farm organisations, Teagasc, Meat Industry Ireland, the Agricultural Consultants Association and Bord Bia in attendance.

A huge amount of unrest remains among farmers around stars, the Teagasc model used to determine the indices and cow weights.

The Irish Farmers Journal understands that a cow weight base of 450kg is going to be applied, below which no bonus will be applied to the replacement index.


Seán Larkin, a pedigree Simmental breeder from Loughrea, Co Galway, told the Irish Farmers Journal that he has been "fleeced" by the ICBF as a result of the changes to star ratings.

"I had an overall reserve champion at Tullamore Show last year and that heifer has dropped from four stars to one star because of the changes.

"We entered the Beef Genomics Scheme and we did exactly what Seán Coughlin told us to do. Every bull I used was five star and used them on the best of my cows. So now they're telling us that what we did for four years is wrong and we're being penalised.

"To see, overnight, that proper breeding heifers who were four and five stars were down is crazy," he said.

They've devalued my stock with one press of a button

Commercial Charolais and Limousin breeder Noel Kelly from Mullagh, Co Galway, said that the ICBF has devalued his stock "with one press of a button".

"They've brought five stars cows down to three- and two-star cows and they've brought bulls the same way. They've reduced a lot of bulls to factory price. Where they would have been worth €7,000 or €8,000, they've reduced that by half.

"They're just trying to push out farmers for carbon credit. I pay carbon on my fuel and the aviation industry pay[s] no carbon credit on their fuel - they're the culprits, not the farmer.

"I had five-star cows in 2022 and now they've deemed them back to as low as two star.

"I dropped out of the SCEP scheme, it's very flawed and they keep changing the goal posts. It's a scheme that's pushing farmers to buy their replacements from the dairy herd," Kelly said.