Government Must Step In To Help Beef Industry

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - More beef factories will shut down if the government doesn’t step in here to maintain the level of production of livestock, especially in the hills, says the National Beef Association (NBA).
calendar icon 1 July 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

The NBA warns that beef factories will soon be closing their doors – unless the alarming fall in the suckler cow population, down 80,000 head across the Province since 1998, is quickly stopped.

“This can be done if the government face up to reality that the current structure of the Single Farm Payment isn’t working and that some form of structural financial change needs to take place in the beef supply chain,” explained the NBA’s Northern Ireland chairman, Oisin Murnion.

“There is no requirement to keep cattle and sheep on any farms and therefore production has dropped at an alarming rate. Beef farmers are giving up on cows because they cannot cover their costs from the sale of their calves. So more invested is needed, if a core of beef farmers is to be persuaded to stick with cattle and keep the cattle that the factories need coming forward.”

“Additional cash help can be filtered in at the breeding end of the business if the number of native cattle breeds included in the NICMS is extended.”

“These could form the rump of a maternal strain of low cost, suckler cows that could be used across the Province to cross with terminal bulls to help maintain beef output while at the same time their thrifty presence would help to protect valued landscapes and environmentally sensitive areas too.”

“I have already urged the Northern Irish Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to consider the top-slicing of all SFP to establish schemes under Article 68, which are aimed at preserving suckler cow populations in the core areas where their continued presence would ensure the survival of rural communities as well as a vital pool of breeding females.”

“It is well known that hard grazing suckler cows perform many functions beyond the production of a calf, so DARD should take full advantage of the opportunities Article 68 can provide and draw up a formula that would give suckled calf breeders more encouragement.”

“But at the same time the factories must remember that the days when beef farmers could rely on hand outs to make up the difference between production cost and market income are well and truly over.

“The extension of the NICMS to encourage the retention of more native cows and the imaginative use of Article 68 to secure the future presence of other breeding females will help,” said Mr Murnion added.

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