Ann Fitzgerald once again raised the ire of many Hereford enthusiasts with her article in the Farming Independent last week.
Farming Independent Journalist Ann Fitzgerald is it would appear suffering severe pain and anguish given the current price of beef available in the market place. Anne is wife of beef farmer Robin Talbot, Coole, Ballacolla, Co Laois. They farm some 600 acres approx. in some of the best farming land in Ireland. They use Belgian Blue and Limousin stock bulls while the cows are Limousin cross. Robin hosts farm visits; mainly by other farmers and agricultural students but also by others from the broader agri sector and will always try to facilitate anybody wishing to visit. “In order for farming to survive I believe it is critical that farmers help each other by sharing their experiences and information” so says Robert on his website.
Given such an information sharing approach Robert will I feel welcome an opportunity for him and his wife Anne to study research by Teagasc at Johnstown Castle which indicates a gross margin of up to €2000 per hectare from Hereford cross achievable. Published by Teagasc the content of this document was delivered at the National Beef Conference held at the New Park Hotel Kilkenny on 9th October 2013. Can suckler beef figures compete?
Anne’s recent article in the Farming Independent “Pointless following Market Trend For No Profit” finishing with “Indeed, with the exception of a few small niche markets, the only places that these early maturing breeds are being farmed commercially are where hormones can be used” is derogatory and appears to be a cry for help but in her desperation she cannot see the wood for the trees or perhaps refuses to see that a less blinkered approach could yield dividends.
This Society does not and will not run down or denigrate any other breed of cattle as Ann Fitzgerald has done in her obvious frustration at current beef prices. Her vitriolic finishing paragraph quoted above while blatantly untrue is unworthy of a journalist of her calibre. This is not a first offense and appears at this point to be a deeply ingrained obsession. We feel your pain Ann but suggest you divert your anger elsewhere.
It is the position of the Irish Hereford Society that all of the cattle breeds currently within the country have a role to play and differing strengths to offer the producer. There is probably more difference within than between breeds. The promotion of a product should not be dependent on denigrating the product of the competition. The Hereford breed has many major plus factors that are based on solid facts as identified by Teagasc at Johnstown and elsewhere across the great beef producing countries of the world. Ease of calving, docility, milk and fertility are very desirable traits. Carcass size, conformation and fat-score are ideal for current markets in the UK and beyond. Branded Hereford beef is in wide demand on the home market in the UK and in top restaurants and supermarkets across Europe. Long may it continue we say and well done to those Hereford beef producers who each week supply the necessary product to fill these branded beef markets worth in excess of 5 million per annum and growing. There are also opportunities for new suppliers.
Ann please note
- The Hereford breed is not responsible for current beef prices.
- The performance of the breed at Tully and elsewhere has equalled and bettered that of other breeds.
- The Hereford breed has invested immense effort and capital in improving the genetics within the breed.
- The Hereford breed has invested time, effort and capital in the development and promotion of its beef.
- The Hereford breed will consort with and cross well with other beef and dairy breeds. The Hereford is not racist.
- Teagasc figures show that there is no better suckler dam than the Hereford cross.
- Hereford sired stock including those out of continental cross dams qualify for premium prices through the branded beef schemes.
- Should we send flowers or perhaps a voucher for a delicious, succulent Hereford steak to ease the mind and caress the palate.