The Irish Cattle Breeders Federation reported results for 2023 which showed an increase in after-tax profits to €428,424, up from €241,643 the previous year. Income at the organisation was boosted by €8m of funding from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR).

The BAR funding was allocated towards phase one of the national genotyping programme, and covers the cost of genotyping cows, stock bulls and replacement females.

The ICBF said that while it is a not-for-profit organisation, it aims for a margin of around 2% per year to avoid making a loss. The ICBF last made an annual loss in 2006 and now has retained earnings of over €3m, the majority of which has been made in the last five years.

While the launches of the genotyping programme and the AgNav suite of tools for farmers can be seen as successes for the organisation during the year, the updates to how indexes and star ratings are calculated caught many farmers by surprise and have proven extremely controversial.

Costs for animals

The update included a revision of economic and environmental costs for animals which severely disadvantaged larger animals, leaving many farmers with reduced ratings for previously highly-rated stock. Michael O’Leary, owner of the Gigginstown Angus herd told the Irish Farmers Journal at the recent annual sale there that “messing with the system undermines confidence. Breeders need confidence and consistency.”

The ICBF has held three meetings with the stakeholder group this year on the issue, with the next meeting scheduled for July. IFA livestock chair Declan Hanrahan said that progress is being made on the substantive concerns raised by the IFA.