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Forum - Beef 2022

There was a lively discussion at the forum at the Beef 2022 Open Day in Teagasc Grange this week. It attracted an engaged audience and was opened by Teagasc Chair Liam Herlihy. He introduced and welcomed the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD. The Minister addressed the forum dealing with a number of issues relevant to beef farming and agriculture in general. The minister advised that he was not in agreement with a recent economist who argued for a reduction in the beef herd.

He addressed the issue of climate change and the need for agriculture to reduce emissions by between 22% and 30%. The final figure is expected to be known by the end of July. He stressed that the reduction must allow Irish farmers to continue to produce world-class food.

The minister outlined the many support schemes for farmers that had been introduced since the start of the year. He also spoke about upcoming schemes including the new environmental scheme, ACRES and the highest ever level of support for organic development.

Minister McConalogue received and responded to a range of questions from the audience.

The forum was then moderated by broadcaster Ivan Yates and addressed by a number of speakers who dealt the theme of the day ‘Supporting Sustainable Beef Farming’ the panel consisted of:

Director of Teagasc, Professor Frank O’ Mara addressed the issue of environmental sustainability, recognising that climate change was the biggest issue facing the world at present. He discussed the work that Teagasc was doing and what was planned to assist farmers, in particular beef farmers meet whatever reduction targets will be set for agriculture.

Professor Alice Stanton of the Royal College of Surgeons and Beaumont Hospital spoke about health issues associated with the consumption of red meat. She set straight some reports that had associated the eating of red meat with a number of serious health issues. She offered evidence that showed the health benefits of eating red meat two to four time a week.

Market analyst Phelim O’Neill addressed the issue of markets for Irish beef. He advised that the impact of Brexit had not been felt yet, but was likely to be an issue in the coming years. He also gave information on trade deals being done by both the UK and EU with Australia and New Zealand respectively.

Mayo Suckler farmer Michael Biggins dealt with the many issues facing beef farmers, particularly those farming on more marginal land, with limited options to change enterprise. He also discussed the many changes he had made to his farming over the years and the need now to focus on environmental issues. 

There was excellent interaction with and questions for all speakers.