NI Beef Farmers Can Deliver What Consumers Want

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - Northern Ireland’s beef farmers have already established their readiness to look ahead, in this instance by offering consumers a high integrity product, because 92 per cent of their cattle already meet farm quality assurance standards – which according to the LMC is a record high for a domestic scheme.
calendar icon 2 March 2010
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And soundings taken within the Province, while the NBA was preparing for NI Beef Expo 2010, conclusively demonstrate their further willingness to take their sector forward by assisting in the construction of a co-ordinated cattle health programme, possibly delivered on an all-Ireland basis, which will rid their herds of the twin scourges of bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) and infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR).

“Each of these diseases is an expensive burden on many businesses and there is growing realisation of just how much they not only impair productivity but also tarnish the image, and the price, of breeding cattle offered on both domestic, and international, commercial and pedigree markets,” explained the National Beef Association’s (NBA) Northern Ireland chairman, Oisin Murnion, while talking to journalists after the opening of the Beef Expo event.

“BVD in particular undermines business performance because it damages fertility and significantly reduces the number of suckler-bred calves, each of them an income creator in its own right, born in the Province each year.”

“The NBA, and its members, will therefore support an organised effort to rout each of these diseases, and in so doing not only reduce the cost, and improve the efficiency, of turning out good beef cattle, but also assist in the building of Northern Ireland’s reputation for good stockmanship and effective disease control management.”

The NBA also wants to get to grips with assisting in the delivery of genuine food security for Northern Ireland’s consumers by producing as much beef as possible while at the same time ensuring that production standards are entirely compatible with fully understandable public demands for the cleanest possible air, water and soil.

“Which means one very damaging myth must be very firmly killed off and buried”, said Mr Murnion. “This industry can often attract unfounded criticism and claims that beef production is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, sits firmly in this category.”

“It is of course nonsense because grass, which forms the basis of cattle diets in summer, and provides silage in winter, soaks up carbon from the atmosphere which is neutralised after being stored in the soil.”

“Cattle eat grass, which humans cannot do, converting it into a valuable protein which forms an essential part of a balanced diet. But if all grass pasture was ploughed up to grow other crops, including vegetables, the carbon release off land which currently carries cattle would be much greater than it is now.”

“To help maintain the beneficial presence of cattle in Northern Ireland the NBA, which firmly believes that beef farmers must be properly represented on all government-industry stakeholder groups, will also be looking to secure the best possible deal for active Northern Ireland farmers in forthcoming CAP reform negotiations,” Mr Murnion added.

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