A LARGE crowd packed into Skibbereen Mart last Monday night for the special event organised by IFA and Cork Marts.
It was laid on with the aim of having something of interest for everyone who is involved in cattle farming. It was also framed so as give some guidance to farmers in their efforts to cope with current problems, such as fodder shortages and uncertainties such as weather patterns over the coming months, market conditions, funding of CAP and the fears surrounding Brexit.
Dealing with the fodder situation, Karen Dukelow of Teagasc emphasised the need to plan now so as not to run into a crisis over the coming months. While the trade for plainer cattle is poor at the present time, reducing numbers before winter starts could be the lesser of two evils if a farmer is short of fodder.
Sean Coughlan of ICBF outlined how it is in a farmer’s best interest to aim to breed better cattle. A secondary consideration, which ties in with this, is the problem of greenhouse gas emissions, which is looming ahead for farmers.
Joe Burke of Bord Bia showed how efforts are being made to develop new markets for our beef, while striving to get the most from existing markets. Undoubtedly, Brexit is the huge cloud hanging over us in this regard.
Angus Woods, IFA National Livestock chairman, spoke of the problems we face and the efforts which the IFA is making to help cattle farmers. He said that while dairy co-ops had brought in various measures to help milk producers to cope with shortages of feed and fodder, the response from meat factories to the problems of cattle farmers was to cut their prices at every opportunity. He also spoke of the IFA campaign for increased payments under a suckler cow scheme.
Refreshments were served afterwards in the mart canteen to round off an informative evening for the large number of farmers who turned out for the event.