Business Farming

Sunday 25 September 2016

'Factories stalling beef index plans'

Martin Ryan

Published 24/02/2016 | 02:30

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney

The meat industry is stalling efforts to create a beef price index, claimed IFA presidential candidate Henry Burns.

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"In the dairy industry we have a price index. In beef we are fighting for that at European level, but the meat industry is resisting it all the way. In the absence of it, we have no way of getting information on wholesale prices between the farmer and the supermarket," Mr Burns said at last week's IFA presidential debate in Limerick.

"In the US there are 150 people within the US Department of Agriculture working on reporting supermarket prices twice daily," the IFA livestock chairman said.

A spokesman for Meat Industry Ireland (MII) said the EU Commission publishes the beef prices paid in every member state weekly, and Irish cattle prices are at 105pc of the EU average.

MII pointed out it worked with Bord Bia to give a market analysis of beef exports at the recent Beef Forum which showed cuts and market channels in retail, food servicing and manufacturing.

A spokesman said this showed the "complexity and diversity of the market channels" and also showed the "impossible task of running a price index that could encompass the complexity and diversity of cuts, markets and channels". "It was also accepted that no other member state in the EU has such a beef price index," he said.

Joe Healy said that research had shown that a heifer for which the farmer received €800 retailed out at a return of €2,200.

"We have proved that we are too easily dictated to and we need to be a lot stronger," he said.

Flor McCarthy said that it was not acceptable that Irish produce is being used as a loss leader by the supermarkets, but he added that farmers are also too willing to accept the processors' reasons for not paying more.

In a separate development, Mr Burns told the Limerick meeting an agreement has been reached with Minister Simon Coveney that will see the Department of Agriculture carry out monitoring of the carcase trim of cattle at factories. The process is to become the responsibility of Agricultural Officers at the factories for all carcasses being processed at the 26 export factories.

He said it must be ensured the Department of Agriculture AO's (Agricultural Officers) fully monitor it.

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