'Young farmers see no optimism in beef and many are switching to dairy already'- Macra

Stock photo.
Stock photo.
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Young farmers do not see optimism in the beef sector and are already switching to dairy, Macra na Feirme president James Healy has said.

Mr Healy stated that processors and retailers must “wake up” and realise that their future business is inextricably linked to providing an economically sustainable future for young beef farmers.

“Ten years could make a huge difference to the number of beef farmers in this country if we aren’t careful,” Mr Healy told a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Agriculture committee on the future of the beef sector.

“Young farmers are speaking with their feet already. I recently interviewed for the Teagasc Student of the Year, we had a large number of people who had beef but who were considering switching to other sectors if it wasn’t dairy they were looking at sheep.

“They see currently no major optimism to go in to beef as way of having sustainable income. They don’t necessarily expect to be a full time beef farmer but even part time is very hard for them.”

Macra launched its Sustainable Beef Policy today where it set out proposals on how to create a viable beef sector for potential new entrants

Among the proposals are:

  • Broader access to training and advisory services which can give beef farmers the knowledge and technical skills required to maximise the resource at their feet.


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  •  Introduction of young farmer bonus to be paid by processors, recognising the fact that young farmers are the most likely to adapt and put in place the advances in in technology that will drive the future of this sector.


  • The formation of EU recognised producer organisations which will negotiate with factories or exporters and give beef farmers who have not the size or scale, the bargaining power of large-scale beef producers.


  • Removal of VAT on all sexed semen AI straws by allowing all farmers reclaim the VAT, including non-registered. A greater adoption of sexed semen use could further help reduce the carbon emissions of the beef sector by allowing farmers to choose the correct straw for their requirements, whether that be breeding replacements or having cattle for finishing.

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