A fundamental overhaul of the dairy beef scheme is immediately required in order to secure a viable and sustainable calf-to-beef sector, Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Francie Gorman has said.

“From the outset, we pointed out the glaring error in Ireland’s CAP strategic plan when it omitted a rearing payment for calves from the dairy herd.

"We subsequently had the launch of a 10-point action plan to support calf-to-beef systems, but with absolutely no financial support provided for farmers, which [the] IFA highlighted from the earliest point,” he said.

Funding for calf rearers

In detailed submissions to the Minister and his officials to the Food Vision groups last year and again to the consultation for the 10-point action plan earlier this year, the IFA highlighted the absence of these supports for calf rearers and called for a payment of €100 per calf for farmers rearing calves from the dairy herd.

The current dairy beef scheme provides a payment to dairy farmers for breeding higher beef merit beef calves, but provides no funding to those who actually rear the calves. The IFA says that this is a mistake and must be resolved.

“It’s not too late to correct this. The Minister must come forward with a direct support payment of €100 per calf for farmers who are investing in rearing these calves.

"Many farmers entered into these enterprises on the belief that financial support for the rearer would be provided. They cannot be left high and dry by the Minister on this,” he concluded.