Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice has obtained detailed data from the Michael Creed TD, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine outlining suckler cow numbers.
The figures showed that there was a significant fall in suckler cow numbers from June to December of 2017, while the figures for the end of the year shows the total number of suckler cows at 864,517 was down from 1,004,334 in June 2017.
The decrease of almost 140,000 cows represents a 14% decline in six months and Fitzmaurice stated that “should be a wake-up call to all who care about the suckler cow industry.”
The suckler cow is “critical”
“We won’t have an industry by the time of the next CAP Program if this trend continues. With that in mind, I am now calling on Minister Creed to come out of hiding and realise that his responsibility as Minister doesn’t just apply to Dairy farmers.” Fitzmaurice said in response to the decline in suckler cow numbers.
He added by saying that in many parts of the country the suckler cow is “critical”, especially in western areas which accounts for almost 60% of the total suckler cow numbers.
Impact on Employment
“In these areas, the Minister and his cabinet collages, need to understand the importance of the industry to the wider economy. This fall in numbers won’t just impact on farmers. In our meat factories, exports and marts it will mean 3000 a week less animals.” He added.
The Deputy said that this decline will impact on employment in factories, marts, co-op stores and the wider communities. He called on the Minister to provide action and clarification on what support can be implemented in order to stabilise and develop the industry.
Decline in suckler cow numbers
Fitzmaurice has publicly outlined his concerns for the future of the suckler industry, in response to the data that he obtained.
“Last Monday I did state that we needed in excess of €100million in conjunction with the money in the Beef Data & Genomics Program, in order to put in place a suckler cow scheme. This scheme should pay €200 on the first 20 cows with a further €100 on the next 30 cows.” Fitzmaurice said.
“The scheme also needs to be simple and prioritise money to farmers and not bodies like the ICBF as what we happened in the failed Beef Data & Genomics Program.” He added.
Fitzmaurice concluded by demanding that the Minister acts immediately and instructs his officials to work with him. He has called for a package to be put in place that will provide suckler farmers and the wider industry, with the support that they require.