29 JULY 2016
ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan has warned that new initiatives on clean cattle cannot become just another stick to beat farmers with. “Given the negative margins from most beef systems, there will be very little tolerance if the clean cattle policy turns out to be just another mechanism to penalise farmers.
“We need to see Teagasc doing research into why some cattle are cleaner than others. Factors such as diet and housing systems need to be looked at. Farmers report that there can be surprising differences between older and newer slatted sheds on the one farm. We need to focus on finding ways to make beef production profitable and then it is easier to propose systems to produce cleaner cattle.”
However, Mr Phelan said that farmers had a somewhat jaded view due to their perception that cattle are always clean when they are scarce and that factories impose clipping charges when they are plentiful. “We need to see price rises urgently because unless beef production gets viable, there is little point in castigating farmers. ICSA is adamant that no farmer would willingly produce dirty cattle but it is clear that the diet of cattle is very much determined by the tight margins. The Department and the beef industry needs to understand that new markets are no good unless they can support a viable price for farmers.”