Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 10 December 2016

'It's not going to leave more money in farmers' pockets having a plant at every crossroads' - Larry Goodman

Published 18/10/2016 | 15:45

Larry Goodman. Pic:Steve Humphreys
Larry Goodman. Pic:Steve Humphreys

Following competition approval of his high-profile takeover of Slaney Foods in recent weeks, ABP owner Larry Goodman has signalled that further consolidation is necessary in the Irish beef sector.

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Speaking to the Farming Independent, at the giant trade fair SIAL in France this week, Goodman said that further consolidation was still required in the Irish meat processing sector. He believes that close to 60pc of the capacity of Irish slaughter plants remains unutilised.

"We're still very small, relatively speaking, and it's not going to leave more money in farmers' pockets having a plant at every crossroads," he said.

ABP this week announced another significant acquisition – further expanding its meat processing facilities in Poland, which will help the company build throughput by another 100,000 head to 250,000 over the next three years.

"There are lots of places to invest all over the world with better returns than Ireland, all in the agri-sector," noted Mr Goodman.

Brexit

Larry Goodman also raised concerns in regard to the impact of Brexit on the UK beef sector. He said that axing UK  farm supports would have a disastrous effect on beef farmer numbers in the country where he has concentrated his largest investments.

"If state supports go, UK beef farmers would be wiped out in 10 years," Mr Goodman said.

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However, he believes that the British government will want to ensure some security of supply by continuing to support its farmers.

"We would like to see a support system similar to the deficiency payments what existed in Britain before it joined the EU where the producer price did not fall below a certain agreed level.

"That ensures that Britain doesn't become totally reliant on food imports and that tax-payers' support for the farmer benefits the housewife in the form of cheaper prices at the other end," he said.

He contrasted this with the intervention system, which he said only benefitted oil-producing countries that were able to buy food cheaply out of EU storage.

"We wouldn't sell into intervention for the first nine months because it penalises the good customer and gives nothing back to the taxpayer. The British had it right long before they ever entered the EU," he said.

‘Brexit informs every waking moment’ - Minister

Meanwhile, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed admitted that the fall-out from the June referendum had become the biggest challenge of his brief to-date.

"Brexit informs every waking moment. We are more knowledgable than most, but we are still in the dark," he told the Farming Independent at the Paris trade show.

He is travelling to London this week to "love-bomb" major retailer Sainsburys, and hopes to meet the Agriculture Secretary, Andrea Leadsom in late November.

"We can't turn our back on the UK because it's still our most lucrative market, so the status quo is our objective," said Mr Creed.

The IFA criticised the Government this week for not providing exceptional support for the worst affected businesses in the sector, despite the Department of Agriculture's special marketing fund of up to €0.75m for small food businesses that have been seriously affected by Brexit.

Indo Farming