The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) has called for star ratings to be phased out ahead of an Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) stakeholder forum meeting on Thursday 1 February.

IFA president Francie Gorman said the ICBF stakeholder forum has to address the genuine concerns that suckler farmers and pedigree breeders have with the recently published indices.

"We need to look at how the weightings and calculations are applied and their impact on suckler breeding policy and SCEP, and changes will have to be made to ensure farmers have confidence in the indices," he said.

Gorman added that it is important that farmers participating in SCEP do not experience any negative impact from the changes.

Referring to the flexibilities announced by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue on Tuesday, Gorman said it is important that all issues that arise for SCEP farmers are kept under review.

IFA livestock chair Declan Hanrahan said the IFA will be seeking to address a number of key issues in the forum process.

He said the star rating system is not working for suckler farmers on the ground and must be discontinued, with the emphasis being put on the euro value for the animals in the index.

"This would remove the cliff edge of dropping between star categories without, in some cases, any change to the animal’s euro value," he said.


In relation to suckler farmers who sell their weanlings, Hanrahan said the current system is failing to reflect this production system.

He said the indices must be developed to reflect the full value of the output from these farms.

Weanling production is a different production system than integrated beef finishing systems and there should be an index to reflect this.

Turning to the new indices, Hanrahan said the forum must scrutinise the purpose of the inclusion of all of the current measures, their weighting within the index and the data source used for the economic modelling.


The IFA livestock chair added that there has been genuine concerns raised around areas such as cow liveweight, maintenance cost of suckler cows, failure to include actual weanling prices, carbon, TB resistance, calving data, milk, days to slaughter and age at finish.

All of these will have to be assessed for the relevance and purpose for inclusion in an economic index for suckler cows and accuracy of data available.

The IFA will be attending the forum and will be engaging in the process to deliver on the key issues identified in a comprehensive and timely manner, he added.