There has been a mixed reaction to the new €1.5m calf feeding system scheme
The announcement by Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed of a €1.5m grant aid support package for calf feeding systems has received a mixed reaction.
While IFA national dairy chairman Tom Phelan welcomed the news, ICSA president Edmond Phelan said it would not be of any benefit if the price of beef remains below the cost of production.
“It’s an important first step in helping farmers take their share of the responsibility in managing larger numbers of dairy calves from next spring,” said Mr Phelan.
He said that IFA’s dairy calf policy document, Managing Dairy Calves, identified the need to provide financial support for farmers to set up additional facilities before next spring.
“Farmers also need some guidance, advice and training on best calf rearing practice to optimise the value of their calves, and I would urge farmers to attend their local AHI dairy calf event in January,” he said.
Mr Phelan also said that calf exports must be secured for next spring, and this must involve Minister Creed and his officials getting clarity from exporters, ferry companies and lairage operators to maximise access, and rigorously regulating transport and lairage bookings.
The ICSA’s Edmond Phelan said that while all grant aid was welcome for those who wished to invest in developing their farming activity, rearing calves at current beef prices was a “complete waste of time.”
He said that he cannot understand how meat processors expected to keep their business viable long- term while they allowed farmers to lose a fortune supplying beef at €3.55.
“The reality is that markets everywhere are buoyant on the back of protein scarcity in China. Even Brazilian beef price is getting close to Irish beef price now. If meat processors want farmers to rear the 2020 crop of dairy calves, then we need an immediate and substantial beef price rise in January,” he sad.
Mr Phelan said that if this did not happen, ICSA will be advising farmers that buying calves was unprofitable and they would be well advised to hold on to their money.