IFA calls on Teagasc boss to 'clarify' his position on suckler cull proposal

Teagasc director Gerry Boyle
Teagasc director Gerry Boyle
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Teagasc needs to make a clear public statement on its position over proposals to cull the national suckler herd, the IFA has warned.

Teagasc director Gerry Boyle is a member of the Climate Change Advisory Council, which last week called for a 500,000 to 1.5 million reduction in the national herd by 2030.

IFA livestock chairman Angus Woods told the Farming Independent that if Mr Boyle is pushing for a reduction of the suckler herd, "his position at Teagasc has to be in question".

According to Woods, the Teagasc director must come out publicly and state what his view is in relation to the suckler herd.

"It's easy for Gerry Boyle or Professor (John) Fitzgerald to write a report saying 'scrap the suckler herd and throw the suckler farmers on the scrap heap', but that's not good policy and we would not stand for it," he said.

"Suckler farmers feel there is an onslaught against them at the moment and this report is not helpful.

"Virtually every suckler farmer is passionate about their animals and want to breed the best.

"There are difficulties being faced around the price and level of supports there and the negative commentary about the sector."

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The IFA maintains that a 10pc contraction in the suckler herd would lead to a loss in beef output of €145m and a loss of total output in the economy of €305m.

Mr Woods said the suckler sector is vibrant and an economic lifeline in rural areas, particularly in the west, where suckler cows account for over 80pc of total cows. Cattle farmers spend over €1.5bn annually on agri-inputs, most of which is spent in the local rural economy.

"Given that the vast majority of Teagasc clients are beef farmers, they are outraged that Gerry Boyle would promote such a position," said Mr Woods.

"He needs to clarify his position now in relation to the drystock sector.

Genetics

"According to ICBF, if we continue the genetic route we're taking and the environmental improvements in the suckler herd, the suckler herd will achieve a 14pc reduction in GHG emissions by 2030."

Teagasc, in response, said its 2018 MACC (Marginal Abatement Cost Curve) paper sets out measures that need to be taken to reduce emissions.

"Many of these measures form the basis of the Government's Climate Action Plan for agriculture. The Climate Change Advisory Council has also published an annual review. It analysed the impact of reducing the beef cow herd by up to 50pc.

"If the Teagasc MACC is implemented, Teagasc work shows that the targets can be met without such a reduction in numbers."

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