Farm Ireland

Sunday 24 March 2019

Bord Bia is not marketing our products as good as they could - Healy Ray

'The factories are having a field day at the expense of farmers'

Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Politicians have criticised Bord Bia and the Department of Agriculture for inspecting farmers and not doing enough to expand markets to help alleviate the current beef crisis price.

At a sitting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture with staff from the Department of Agriculture on the beef sector and Foodwise 2025, Independent TD Danny Healy Ray stated that more needed to be done to drive exports of beef abroad and also slammed factories for paying farmers poor prices compared to the North.

“Bord Bia are carrying out inspections but I don’t believe they are marketing our products as good as they could be, the factories are having a field day at the expense of farmers,” he said.

Fianna Fail TD Jackie Cahill added that market development hasn’t happened and criticised the Department of Agriculture for not including the impact that increased volume of beef and dairy animals would have on the industry in FoodWise 2025 when it was compiled in 2015

“Market development hasn’t happened. Why didn’t projections in Foodwise include volume growth targets?

“The lack of realisation on the crisis beef sector is in is frightening. This thing that we have all of these great markets is gunk, lets state the facts and not be trying to hoodwink people. 96pc of beef goes to EU and the rest is sent elsewhere as offal. Our sector is on its knees,” he said.

“We knew that the dairy herd was going to expand at a significant rate and we were going to increase milk, to me that was ignoring the inevitable and unfortunately the inevitable is there now. We have 40,000 cattle a week that we can’t kill and that is the reality of Food Wise.”

Mr Cahill stated that there is no mention of profitability in Food Wise and that “men would want to be making €4.60/kg and God help you if you have Friesian steer to kill.”

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Assistant Secretary General at the Department of Agriculture Sinead McPhillips stated that the value of the beef sector was €2.4 billion at farm level last year and added that while they opened up to China last year, it is up to industry to develop in those markets.

In relation to china the Department opens markets. We have exported 1,000t of beef to China which is frozen and boneless, not offal. We acknowledge that it is small when compared to 290,000t to the UK, but it’s up to industry to develop on those opportunities,” she said.

“The UK is the best retail market in Europe. There are very good geographical, economic and social reasons for us being there but here is a focus of expanding markets around the world.”

In January Bord Bia stated that 2018 marked the highest ever volume of Irish exports (+2pc), representing the ninth consecutive year of volume growth.

The total agri-food exports figure for 2018 was valued at €13.6 billion when non-edible products such as forestry are included.

The value of meat and livestock exports from Ireland in 2018 was just under €4 billion, an increase of 1pc on 2017 and a record high for the category.

Production volumes were up across all meat species and new markets are being targeted. Beef exports were valued at €2.5 billion (+ 1pc), while strong price growth saw a 15pc rise in the value of sheep exports to reach €315m.

Online Editors