The dairy and beef sectors should be looked at as one integrated livestock sector, the chair of Meat Industry Ireland (MII) Philip Carroll has said.

Speaking at the Department of Agriculture’s Food Vision 2030 conference last week, he said the sectors can do more by working together.

“One large proportion of the raw material base for our sector comes from the dairy sector – that’s 60%.

“We need to do more to commercialise that, to improve the quality of the breeding around that and introduce an integrated dairy beef programme which captures all of the critical elements needed for success, such as genotyping, sexed semen, dairy beef index,” he said.

He added that discussions around reducing the size of the national herd are not helpful in certain circumstances where he believes farmers are absolutely committed to the process set out.

“I think we need to tone that down for the time being and let’s prove our credentials,” Carroll said.

The chair of MII said that the Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC), Teagasc’s roadmap to reduce emissions, needs to be embraced “across all of the farm structures in this country”.

“It’s a big challenge. From our sector’s perspective, we need to do better in talking about what we are achieving and communicating better with the public.

“One example is in terms of the finishing age of cattle. One of the objectives in the Climate Action Plan is to reduce the average age of finishing from 27 to 24 months by 2030.

“That started way back in 2010 when the average age was 30 months – it’s now 26 months. We’re on that journey.”