Why 30 years ago there were fears one million acres of land would become redundant

Farming Independent from April 14, 1987

The future of the suckler sector was the big topic in farming this week 30 years ago with the Farming Independent reporting that experts were casting “big doubts” on the viability of suckling on many Irish farms.

Professor Seamus Sheehy from UCD told the BEEF 87 conference that “two major hurdles must be overcome — firstly the achievement of high levels of technical performance and, secondly, the resolution of funding bottlenecks.”

Professor Sheehy proposed radical action involving the formation of producer groups and the abolition of income tax on earnings from suckling.

This approach, he stated, would be the only way to avoid leaving nearly one million acres of land redundant by 1990 as a result a reduction in the dairy herd by up to 300,000 cows due to reduced milk quotas.

The margins on horses kept by farmers were also under scrutiny. 

In a report headlined simply ‘Horses and Cash’, equine breeding expert Norman Storey was quoted as saying that to achieve profitability the mares on the farm must produce a foal every year, but the fertility level in the non-thoroughbred side of the Irish industry was just 50pc.

“This is unacceptable and no enterprise could be profitable at that level,” said Mr Storey.

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