ICSA president Dermot Kelleher said the publication of the Teagasc National Farm Survey results for 2022 demonstrate the need for a complete re-think of agricultural policy in terms of support and also outline the reality that cattle and sheep prices are not sustainable.
“It is really a wake-up call for policy makers when we see that dairy incomes increased by 50% whereas suckler and sheep incomes fell by 13.4% and 20.9% respectively. Cattle feeding enterprises showed a small increase of 9% but it’s a deceptive figure because it is built on previous year cattle purchases to some considerable extent.”
“A key point is that supermarkets have been completely reckless in keeping prices for beef and lamb at unsustainable prices despite massive cost increase. For example, supermarkets have doubled down on their traditional two steaks for a tenner policy. In our view, this is not sustainable. Whereas dairy product prices increased notably on the shelves in 2022, there was no increase in beef or lamb prices. This is a really critical point now at a time when supermarkets are cutting prices again. Beef and lamb prices did not increase on the shelves and this must be addressed.”
“On the other hand, ICSA believes that the CAP and other support schemes are clearly not fit for purpose now for the suckler and cattle farming sectors. We are calling for this to be addressed in the mid-term review of the CAP but more urgent action is also needed. It is now beyond question that something must be done for the sheep sector. ICSA’s campaign for the sheep sector is even more justified in the light of a 20% drop in sheep farm incomes to an average of €16,454.
We are also calling for an immediate decision in relation to the budget allocation for a replacement scheme for the BEEP to support suckler farmers.”
“The results also demonstrate that cattle and sheep farmers do not have the profitability to be able to invest in climate or biodiversity measures from their incomes. If want to meet our agricultural climate targets there must be direct support for the cattle and sheep sectors. It is complete dreamland to think that the dairy herd can be reduced when there is such income disparity. Unless the income disparity is addressed, who is the government fooling if it thinks there will be any willingness to move away from dairy?”