'We'd love to see farmers get better price from factories' - Teagasc

Suckler cows
Suckler cows
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Teagasc has said it that it would “love” to see beef farmers get a higher return from factories for their product but has no influence over price.

Teagasc Director of Research Frank O’ Mara said it works with farmers on producing animals in as an efficient manner as possible and has no formal relations with meat factories.

“We don’t have any answers on that huge conundrum (price). Obviously the big huge issues for beef farmers are the price he gets for cattle and how efficiently he can produce those cattle and our role is with the second part of that,” said Mr O’ Mara.

“We’ve no influence on price. They’re our clients, we’d loved to see them getting more from the market. We have no formal relations with beef factories. We collaborate with them on various initiatives they take to try and support producers. We have no relations in regard to pricing.”

Mr O’ Mara added that while there is “no doubt a fundamental change” in the structure of the beef sector he doesn’t envisage that the suckler herd will reduce significantly in the short to medium term or even in the next decade.

“It’s maybe going to back to where we were in the past when we had 400,000 suckler cows and 1.4m dairy cows. I’m not suggesting we’re going back to that level of suckler cows in the short or medium term,” he told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture.

“I think there were lots of differences then as well, at the time we had 70,000 dairy farmers and the average dairy herd was 20 cows. A lot of those farmers have gotten out of dairy and in to sucklers and they’re not going to go back to dairy production.”

He stated that farmers can make money out of suckler farming but added that it has always had a lower margin than dairying.

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