Furious beef farmers warn sector is on brink of collapse
Angry exchanges as suckler farmers say there is no hope as returns are 'equivalent to the dole'
Angry beef farmers have thrown down the gauntlet to the IFA to deliver stronger leadership on prices, and warned that the sector was on the brink of collapse.
Amid angry exchanges at a meeting of Limerick IFA last week, livestock farmers claimed they were now totally dependent on their direct payments for an income which averaged €210-€250/week - "equivalent to the dole" as one contributor maintained.
A leading IFA man in the county said the association should admit to farmers that there was no hope for the suckler sector and advise members to sell up the cows and "get a job".
The angry comments in Limerick mirrored sentiments expressed at a recent IFA meeting in Kerry, and at meetings of the Beef Plan Group in Roscommon and Claremorris.
"I can see the sector totally collapsing," Donal O'Brien, a former member of the IFA livestock committee, told the Limerick meeting.
Mr O'Brien called on the IFA to "for God's sake engage more expertise if necessary", to deliver better representation for beef farmers.
"I have three sons, and a good farm of land, but they have no interest in it and I don't blame them. I have 72 suckler cows, I'm cutting back to 30 and I will be gone out next year. If the IFA can't come up with a plan to save the suckler sector they should tell farmers to get out and get a job," he said.
"It is time for action by the IFA to take on the processors head-on but we need a new group to do that because I have no faith in IFA to deliver. Would you like to work for €12,000 a year? That's what we are getting. All I want is to get paid for my product," beef farmer Tom O'Donnell said.