Commenting on his organisation’s decision not to cross a farmer picket and attend today’s Beef Forum in the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, ICMSA President, Pat McCormack, said that while ICMSA would always respect a farmer protest it was hugely important that commentators differentiated between an understandable display of frustration at poor prices and a real viable solution to ongoing systemic flaws in the relationship between farmers and factories.
“The behaviour of the factories in the last three quarters where they’ve added to the pressures that they know are piling up on farmers is really inexcusable and very disappointing. But ICMSA cautions against just looking at this latest episode and deciding on just that basis. We think the problems go deeper than this latest round of price-cuts; we think that a huge part of the problem originates with the QPS Beef Grid that had an anti-farmer bias designed into it and which we estimate has cost farmers approximately €120 million since it was introduced eight years ago. There has to be an independent review of the Grid and, in fact, a commitment to do that was given four years ago but never happened – it has to happen now. The other two elements that have to be addressed are transparency in beef pricing structure that allows farmers to follow price in the same way as dairy farmers can reference the Ornua PPI and also the lack of any live exporter presence at the Beef Forum – the exporters are the only real competition to the factories and play an integral role in the beef trade so they should be represented”, said Mr McCormack.
“We have to move towards dealing with the substantive issues and ICMSA thinks that has to start with a ‘root-and-branch’ review of the Beef Grid that examines whether it’s fit for purpose and a real drive on getting live export numbers up”, he concluded.
Ends 3 October 2018
Pat McCormack, 087-7608958
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office