Speaking following the decision of the EU Commission to approve the ABP/Slaney Meats joint venture, the Chairperson of the ICMSA Livestock Committee has said that it’s perfectly clear that the interests of primary producers are a long way down the priority list of the EU Commission and the onus is now on the Irish Government to put in place measures aimed at providing Irish farmers with alternative outlets for their cattle: a strong, well-regulated, live export trade.
Michael Guinan said that farmers “justifiably believe” that competition will be lessened by the Slaney/ABP deal and the prices they receive for cattle will be undermined with the fear that further consolidation in the industry cannot be ruled out: a further negative development that would, again, likely lower prices to the primary producer. “The Government and Bord Bia need to provide an alternative to the meat processors and that can only mean live exports. ICMSA firmly believes that under current structures, live exports are not getting the attention they deserve with the main focus of the Department and Bord Bia being on beef exports. We need to see a change in emphasis and we need to see a re-focus”, he said
To ensure live exports get the attention they deserve and need, ICMSA will lobby for a dedicated unit within Bord Bia with a ringfenced budget to promote live exports for all types of cattle and sheep and also a second dedicated unit to be established within the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine with a sole focus on opening markets for live cattle, removing technical barriers to live exports in some markets, and, finally, ensuring that live exports continue to meet the very high standards already in place.
“There is a Market Access Unit in the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine specifically to address market access issues for beef and we now need to see a similar unit and emphasis on live exports. ICMSA does recognise the efforts being made in relation to live exports but we certainly believe that the structures need to be formalised with specific budgets and targets so that the live export trade can develop and provide a real element of competition for the meat plants. The regulators at EU level just don’t see or care about the concerns of farmers where we see worrying market power concentration further along the supply-chain. In that context, we’re looking to the Government to develop the options that we need if we’re to avoid the situation that has a very few companies dictating the prices farmer receive for their cattle”, said Mr Guinan.
Ends 13 October 2016.
Michael Guinan, 086-8766851
Chairperson, ICMSA Livestock Committee
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office