Ray Dempsey, Roscrea, Co Tipperary

“I don’t think a suckler cull scheme would have been a good plan for the industry as a whole.

“It would be detrimental to the suckler herd and wipe out a lot of farmers who are very good at breeding cattle. The average suckler herd in the west is about 14 cows, any reduction to them would be a big loss. This loss wouldn’t be as big for dairy farmers who nearly all have over 100 cows nowadays.

“Why should sucklers be sacrificed to produce more milk? There’s a lot of land in Ireland that’d be no good for dairying but that can produce very good weanlings and we currently have a very good market for weanlings.”

Michael Harty, Central Auctions CEO

“I find it laughable that the Government was talking about a suckler cull scheme and nothing concrete about keeping dairy cow numbers down.

“The only reason there was talks of a suckler cull scheme was to accommodate the dairy herd to get bigger.

“Dairy farmers work very hard but they shouldn’t have been allowed to expand so much. At the moment, they’re getting both a great price for milk and their cattle. Good-quality cattle didn’t get the rise at all. Three or four suckler farmers would be better for a community than one 400-cow dairy farmer would be. Suckler and beef farmers give more back to the community I think.”

Liam McCormack, Birr, Co Offaly

“If they were going to pay farmers €1,000/cow to get out and, with the price of [cull] cows at the moment, I think there would have been a lot of farmers interested in the scheme.

“However, I buy suckler-bred cattle myself and I think a scheme like that would make them dearer and scarcer than they already are.

“There are still a lot of older farmers around the ring that would never buy stock from the dairy herd because they just don’t like them and they don’t care what they have to give for them. I’m trying to look at it from a business point of view whereas they might be in it for more of a hobby.”

Noel Grady, Ballaghmore, Co Laois

“A lot of older farmers told me they were going to cull a few cows and were waiting to see what the scheme was going to pay.

“I think it’s good that a decision has been made either way. It’d be a pity for farmers to sell cows now and find out in a few weeks’ time that there was a scheme going.

“I wouldn’t like to see sucklers gone completely, the dairy men would have all the land taken up. It’s very hard for young farmers to get access to land at the minute. There’s land around here making €600/ac. That’s manageable for dairy farmers but not anyone else.”

TJ Grace, Toomevara, Co Tipperary

“I love breeding a few cattle and would hate for sucklers to be wiped out completely. It’s the intensive dairy farms that are causing the majority of the environmental issues not sucklers. All that a suckler cull scheme would do is make more room for dairy cows. If there’s a cull for one, there should be a cull for the other.”