ICSA HIGHLIGHTS THE IMPACT OF DROUGHT ON SUCKLERS

1 AUGUST 2018

ICSA suckler chairman John Halley has said that it is increasingly likely that a targeted aid package for farmers who are suffering acutely from the drought will have to be considered. “While the impact of the drought to date has been widespread, the longer term consequences will vary significantly according to farm enterprise and depending on location. For some farmers, the consequences are potentially disastrous and ICSA is particularly concerned about suckler farmers who will not be able to cope because income levels have been low for so many years.”

“Breeding farms have a bigger challenge than trading farms when it comes to a fodder crisis because the impact of selling breeding cows is to destroy a lifetime’s work. Whereas dairy farms do have a lot of support from co-ops and also the benefit of cash reserves from last year, no such comfort exists for suckler farms. However, we must recognise that the situation can still be rescued on many farms if sufficient rain falls in the coming weeks.”

“However, over the past week, the rainfall levels have varied significantly and moisture deficit charts show significant differences between counties. So it is clear that part of the solution will have to involve supports being targeted at vulnerable suckler farmers, particularly those in areas where the worst impact of drought persists.”

“ICSA is very concerned that the drought has already impacted fertility and calf growth rates in many suckler herds. These impacts cannot be overcome in the short-term and the potential hit on suckler income is massive if weanlings have not reached their normal performance targets in herds dependent on selling weanlings. There is also a growing concern that the massive effort to decrease calving interval in suckler herds will be reversed. Whereas dairy farmers can supplement with meals, the economics of sucklers means that feeding substantial quantities of meal to suckler cows was never a runner. While the cows are looking okay, we cannot say yet how much this will impact fertility.”

“It is increasingly clear for example, that the BDGP targets will have to be reviewed and that the shortfall in funding uptake must be retained in the scheme. Farmers will need flexibility to allow them to sell surplus stock even if it means not meeting the four and five star targets in 2018. ICSA is also insisting that the underspend in the BDGP is put back in and we believe a very strong case can be made to the Commission on this.”

ENDS