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Saturday 24 February 2018

'I'm getting the same price for my weanlings now as I was getting back in 1989'

Christy Comerford and his daughter Cynthia on the family’s suckler beef farm in Castlewarren, Co Kilkenny. Photo: Roger Jones
Christy Comerford and his daughter Cynthia on the family’s suckler beef farm in Castlewarren, Co Kilkenny. Photo: Roger Jones

Claire McCormack

Dairy expansion is a "massive threat" to the suckler sector warns Christy Comerford who runs 100 suckling cows alongside his own pedigree Charolais herd in Castlewarren, Co Kilkenny.

"Dairy farmers have the power and they are getting more loans from banks.

"They seem to be in a better position compared to the suckler men - it's as if the Government are trying to reduce the number of suckler cows to free up more ground for dairying," he says.

Christy maintains the sector needs to play to its strengths if it is to survive.

"At the moment the Italians are prepared to buy thousands of weanlings that come from the suckler cows in Ireland because they are reared naturally, but we're getting €4/per kilo the same as the lads in the dairy herd.

"We're not getting the money but the factories are. I'm getting the same price for my weanlings now as I got back in 1989," he says.

Christy said growing number of suckler farmers in his region are opting to take the dairy route.

"Most of them are just going directly into dairying, any of them that has land available to them near the farm yard are just going into dairying because there is not enough to be made out of suckling for the amount of effort that you are putting into it," he says.

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Christy admits he is concerned about the viability of his 220ac farm for the next generation.

"You'd like to know your children would be able to make a living out of it.

"It seems like they are trying to replace the beef cow with the dairy cow. They are all black and white cattle coming from the dairy herd and the oversupply is burning a hole in the suckler man's pocket. Something has to change or we won't have a chance," he says.


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