Beef Plan Movement looking to raise €2m to produce and market own beef

Eamon Corley addresses farmers in Holycross
Eamon Corley addresses farmers in Holycross
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

The Beef Plan Movement is looking to set up its own co-ops to handle the slaughtering of cattle and market its own beef products.

At a meeting in Holycross, Tipperary, the group's Chairman Eamon Corley said the group is in the process of setting up county and regional groups, which he said would take on the role of working with independent processors to contract kill animals for the group, and then market the beef by region.

He told the room of approximately 200 farmers that Bord Bia "does not live in the world of farmers" and does not take account of farmers cost of production, nor do the meat processors.

Irish beef farmers, he said, produce the best beef in the world, but it is currently sold at a discount in UK supermarkets.

"Our premium product ends up on the bottom shelf of three UK supermarkets and we pay Bord Bia €52m to market that beef."

According to Corley, having a co-op in each region would allow beef farmers take back control.

He said these co-ops with €5,000 shares would require just 200 farmers with two shares each to raise €2m, which he said would be a preferable solution to "begging factories to take our cattle".

"We have customers lined up for our beef, it's up to us to make it happen," he said.

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The group, he said, has identified 15 disused factories around the country and three factories that will slaughter for them.

"Then we should be in a position to get a better price for beef than we are currently getting.

"Different regions might do different things with the cattle. Cork might send beef to China, and Tipperary might do a deal with a supermarket in the UK, for example," he said.

The group's Vice Chairman Hugh Doyle said the beef industry is on life support at the moment and told the farmers present that in 1995 they received 40pc of the retail price for beef, but today they only receive 19pc.

He also said that factory feedlots are diluting our Origin Green brand. "You cannot put a P1 cull cow into the same category as U3 steer or heifer, but those two are thrown into the same melting pot. It's a disgrace.

"I would hold Bord Bia to account for that," he said.

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