Hearings on future of the beef sector kick off tomorrow

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine will meet tomorrow to begin hearings on the future of the beef sector in the context of Food Wise 2025.

Representatives from the following organisations will appear before the Committee:

• Irish Farmers' Association (IFA);
• Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA);
• Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA);
• An Taisce.

Chair of the Committee, Pat Deering TD, said “Tomorrow’s meeting is the first in a series of hearings we have arranged on foot of a call for submissions on the future of the beef sector in the context of Food Wise 2025. Foodwise 2025 aims to ensure that environmental protection and economic competitiveness are equal and complementary.

"As such, the Committee is keen to hear from those who will be affected by any proposed changes to how beef is produced. It is vital that farmers are protected as we take greater care in how food is produced.”

Intensification not the answer - ICSA

ICSA warned in its submission to the committee that expansion and increased intensification were not a solution for the beef sector.

The drystock organisation said there was a need to target better prices through better marketing and reduced supply.

The ICSA claimed that Brexit and the possibility of a trade deal with Mercosur represented major challenges to the beef industry.

It is calling for EU legislation to audit the margins in the food chain and to provide public information on the share of profits between retailers, processors and primary producers.

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Lack of competition

The IFA recommended the Agriculture Minister and Joint Committee request the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission undertake a report on the lack of competition in the beef processing sector.

The Oireachtas committee received over 20 submissions from organisations including the farmer representative bodies, pedigree societies, producer groups, individual beef farmers and environmental body An Taisce.

QPS review

The Beef Plan Movement's submission calls for a full appraisal of the current QPS grid to simplify it and have greater increments for premium cattle.

The group says the QPS has failed in its original intention and that high quality carcasses from the suckler herd are under-priced.

A spokesperson for the group said says a full review of the QPS (commonly called QA) bonus and its association with the associated “market” specifications is also needed.

'Origin Green has failed'

Bord Bia's Origin Green programme has failed to deliver a premium price for Irish beef farmers, the ICMSA has claimed.

The farm body also maintained that farmers were failing to see any price benefits from Bord Bia's Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS) despite the costs involved.

ICMSA's assertions were included as part of its submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture regarding the future of the beef sector.

"The investment by farmers and the national exchequer in Bord Bia and Origin Green must deliver a premium price for premium beef. This has not been achieved to date and farmers are increasingly frustrated that their participation in SBLAS is not being rewarded in the marketplace," the ICMSA submission states.

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