Letter to the editor: Suckler farmers need supports while farm leaders devise a soft landing for the sector
Last week's comment piece by Darragh McCullough arguing against the IFA's proposal for a €200/hd suckler subsidy drew a considerable response from readers including the following letter from Frank Kehoe, Ferns, Co Wexford.
As a suckler farmer I commend Darragh McCullough's article (October 2) headlined "Myths about suckler farming" in the sense that it opens a national conversation about the sector that needs to take place. It has to be said that the view articulated in the article that the suckler sector should not be financially supported demonstrates a degree of courage on Mr McCullough's behalf.
From the inside, I can recognise that the outlook for our sector looks truly awful.
Of the full-time farmers engaged in suckling, less than 5pc are under 50 years of age.
This demographic profile alone suggests the sector is doomed.
However, what the article fails to recognise is that what Irish society, the Irish economy and Irish suckler farmers need is a soft landing towards a planned national exit.
An exit which avoids mayhem in both society and the economy will not come cheap.
It is important for society to recognise that the reason that we have close to one million suckler cows in the Republic of Ireland is because successive governments - together with others - have strongly encouraged the growth and maintenance of the national herd over the last 30 years.
For example, if I as an individual decided to exit sucklers over the next few months, I would receive a bill from the State for about €25,000 under the terms and conditions of the genomic scheme.