Farmers need to be 100pc committed to producer groups for them to work - IFA

Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Farmers need to be 100pc committed to producer groups even during pinch periods to ensure they work, a seminar on establishing beef producing groups has heard.

IFA Livestock Chair Angus Woods told the seminar that the first lamb producer group he was a member of failed because farmers were unwilling to travel past their local factory when it came to  bargaining for better prices.

“I’m in my second lamb producer organisation now. The first one failed, the farmers involved weren’t prepared to bypass the nearest factory to go for the best deal. Small lads felt it wasn’t worth driving past Hacketstown.

“The second group is more committed and more full-time. It takes a lot of effort, hard work and commitment from farmers. A lot of effort is put in to constructing a deal, there’s times in the year when a deal looks good and when it doesn’t look so good.

“There needs to be 100pc commitment to make it work. There has to be a buy in and strong leadership is required. Some guys need to be reminded to stay in the group even at pinch periods,” he said.

Mr Woods said while producer groups are one of the solutions to the beef price problem, there are many other factors involved.

“When you meet politicians looking from the outside, if we are lobbying about a key issue when things get difficult they say ‘go set up a producer organisation that will solve it. For some situations they use it as a mud guard. Yes they have a role to play but there are a lot of other factors, when things get tight they say always say set up a producer organisation,” he said.

IFA horticulture chair Paul Brophy said his reason for setting up a producer group were to generate a better income and added that too much focus is put on price when in reality it’s not something farmers have much control over.

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“I couldn’t see us getting massive increases in prices. We focus far too much on focus, we need to look how producer organisations can add value to business and be shared out between us because there are no deals being down on price.

“Price is only going one way and that’s down so we need to focus on our cost base. We’re a fragmented industry so the only way forward is to work together,” said Mr Brophy.

Meanwhile ICOS’ Ray Doyle stated that marts should be supported to counter act the prices of factories.

“During the summer months factories are forced back in to rings as they don’t have the ready supply. Setting up of a producer organisation tomorrow won’t solve price but it can try counter act factory prices as they have one focus and that is to drive down price at farmers expense.

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