Speaking in advance of the Beef Roundtable on Tuesday next, Mr. John Comer, President of ICMSA, said that following the bilateral discussions between the Beef Activation Group and the various stakeholders in the industry since the last roundtable, farmers expect that the next meeting will see some meaningful proposals and actions being taken to address the genuine and valid concerns from beef producers who again this week are finding it difficult to get cattle killed and are selling cattle at a loss in many cases. The issues facing farmers from specifications, the beef grid, live exports, nomadic cattle, quality assurance bonuses to name a few are all well known and have been thrashed out time and time again and now, the roundtable needs to start addressing these issues.
What is happening in the beef sector is similar to other sectors in that power is being placed in the hands of a small number of buyers at both processor and most particularly at retail level and they are simply dictating to the other links in the chain and the so called regulators at national and EU level are simply letting it happen. If the regulators and that I mean the relevant Government Departments and the EU Commission cannot step in and address these matters, then beef and other systems of production based on the family farm model are in serious jeopardy.
The Irish agriculture sector is entering a period of rapid change and unless structures are put in place that will see the marketplace return a price that will deliver a reasonable profit from beef production with a fair specification, there is a danger that beef production as we know it today in Ireland will not continue. For example, Mr. Comer said, that an industry where a farmer invests in an animal for over two years and then at the end, has difficulty getting that animal killed and when it is subsequently slaughtered is out of spec is simply not sustainable.
Given that beef from the dairy herd will represent an ever increasing portion of total beef production in Ireland, structures and a revised grid needs to be put in place to ensure that the animal produced can meet market requirements and most importantly that the farmer gets a reasonable return.
There is growing farmer frustration in relation to the beef sector and there is an onus on the Roundtable meeting to bring forward proposals that will address farmer concerns and farmers need to see actions this week concluded Mr. Comer.
Ends 30 May 2014
John Comer, 087- 2057846
Paul Smyth, 087-9889221
ICMSA Policy Officer