We run a suckler farm at home. It’s been that way for 30 years now and I like beef cattle. I don’t think I could switch to dairy because I’ve grown up in the culture of beef. You have to be born into it and it’s a way of life.
Recently though I hear the phrase lifestyle choice being thrown around in regards to beef farmers. It’s a lifestyle choice to be a suckler farmer and in that choice your choosing to live and farm a business that will make less and less money.
No one chooses to make that choice. I mean in fairness who would?
The suckler subsidy is an issue we’ve been covering on That’s Farming for a few weeks now and its one that gets people worked up. Some say beef farmers should be made to struggle on and the best will fight out and survive others like the IFA are calling for support for hard pressed farmers.
It’s taken me a while to think about all this but really with the way farming is changing so fast in Ireland I have to side with the IFA and call for a suckler subsidy. That €200 a cow could make all the difference between getting through one year and another.
The dairy men got their milk reduction scheme, the sheep men have their money coming in then why not beef? The industry that according to the Teagasc outlook report is going to struggle the most this year.
It’s important to look at why the industry is going to struggle because it’s a multifaceted thing. Firstly CETA, yes I know you are probably sick of hearing about it but if that deal gets passed Europe is going to be awash with cheap Canadian beef that will drive our prices down. And judging from the behaviour of the supermarkets who we have investigated in relation to food mislabelling with fish and chicken Id bet they will pack it as Irish produce and we will buy it and not even know.
Secondly Brexit is having an effect and will most likely continue to do so and lastly there’s (according to the Teagasc outlook report) too many beef cattle coming into the system Europe wide.
Its lining up to be a perfect storm for Europe’s best beef farmers.
Minister Creed has ruled out any form of a suckler subsidy much as he has done the same with our tillage men’s aid package. The money simply isn’t there he has said on different occasions.
We’re told we need to reduce beef numbers then why not pay us beef farmers to do that. The milk reduction system worked albeit that money hasn’t actually been paid out yet. Money can be found of that im sure.
Every beef farmer I know has an off farm job and it’s that job that subsidies the farm and keeps it running. We farm because we love the job and sometimes we sacrifice a lot to do it. Isn’t it time the Minister gave a little back to the farming families that put the meat on our tables?