National Beef Association
For everyone with an interest in the British beef industry

Press Release - NBA asks beef farmers to back its efforts to secure new coupled payment for suckler stock

26th March 2013

Region: Northern Ireland

NBA asks beef farmers to back its efforts to secure new coupled payment for suckler stock.

Northern Ireland’s Agriculture Minister, and her Department, have a chance to secure a solid future for both the suckler cow and the Province’s entire beef industry if they accept that a new, coupled, CAP payment, agreed in principle by EU agriculture ministers only last week, should be linked to suckled calf production from 2014.

So says the National Beef Association which is urging all who are interested in the future of Northern Ireland’s beef sector to note the possibility that up to 12 per cent of SFP paid out in the Province over 2014-2020 could be focused on ensuring the continued breeding of suckler beef.

“An opportunity exists for a timely and important investment in the beef cow whose calves are the bedrock on which a £1 billion a year, cross-Province, beef processing and distribution industry is built,” explained the NBA’s Northern Ireland chairman, Oisin Murnion.

“If this strategy, which could  mean a payment in the region of £132 a head can be very quickly directed at the increasingly vulnerable suckler cow or her calf, is approved in Brussels and then Belfast it would help boost Northern Ireland’s wider economy and generate many other structural advantages for the Province too.”

“These are not fancy sentiments or frothy words. Employment and wealth creation in our important beef processing sector will fade dramatically if the cost of suckled calf production continues to be greater than income received by the breeder.”

“And a coupled payment, the equivalent of around £132 a head, generated by re-distributed SFP would go a great way to plugging the yawning cost-income gap and help safeguard the suckler beef production that is so important to the wellbeing of Northern Ireland as a whole.”

“Its payment would bring other significant social and economic advantages for Northern Ireland too. The worrying problems created by land abandonment west of the Bann could be eased, even resolved, if an additional £132 a head was received by suckled calf breeders at the same time as increased, post-horsemeat scandal, demand for Northern Ireland beef gave suckled calf production another welcome boost.”

“If cows re-appear west of the Bann, which will not happen unless their owners get direct encouragement, then rural re-regeneration which is one of the CAP’s principal aims would be established – and this is a development which would both please, and relieve, the Department of Agriculture too.”

“The NBA likes the idea of cows re-appearing on poorer quality land because it would not just breathe more financial oxygen into struggling rural communities it would also produce more calves for specialist beef finishers on the eastern side of the Province.”

“And so the Association calls on beef farmers across Northern Ireland to back it in its efforts to secure a payment that focuses entirely on the suckler cow and her calf and which will help to sustain beef sector productivity, beef farmers’ income, and rural stability for many, many, years to come,” Mr Murnion added.

For more information contact:
Oisin Murnion, NBA Northern Ireland chairman.
Tel: 02841 765082