“We need to start breeding a good-quality calf out of the dairy herd because they are going to hit a wall next spring” – those were the words of Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice as he addressed members of the Dáil Rural Independent Group yesterday evening (Tuesday, September 24th).
“Are we going to have certain bull calves in this country that are nearly impossible to sell or are we going to try to promote a better-quality animal to make sure it is sustainable for all sides of this?”
Fitzmaurice outlined that 78% of cattle slaughtered fifteen and sixteen years ago were R and U grades, adding that “we are now gone down to 48%”.
“That shows that we aren’t producing the quality animal – have a look at the Italian market or talk to the dealers when they go into a mart. They pick a pen of cattle out in a few minutes when looking for E, U and R grade stock.”
Noting that live cattle exports are running higher than the corresponding period last year, Fitzmaurice said: “We need to look for exports for heavier cattle, stores and weanlings to make sure that it sustainable.”
Making reference to the traceability of Irish beef, the Independent TD outlined: “Are we going to look at an idea that we would be the first country to DNA all our cattle and that anywhere you would go you could probe them and trace it right back to the tag or animal in question?”
“There is so much talk over the last few weeks at factory gates that there is supposed to be Polish beef and every type of beef.”
Concluding, Fitzmaurice called for a “clear path forward” for Irish farm families.
“We have got to have clear paths of where we are going. We have got to make sure that the next generation is brought forward in farming the land.”
Fitzmaurice met with Mattie McGrath, Michael Collins, Michael Harty, Danny Healy-Rae and Michael Healy-Rae to introduction a private members’ motion to “challenge the government on its role in the destabilisation of the agri-food sector over the last number of years”.
“Our motion is an attempt to highlight the fact that for the eight years that Fine Gael has been in power, practically nothing has been done to advance key commitments that were made in the Programme for Government.”