IFA Beef Protest: Farmers take to the streets to deliver ‘warning shot’ to Government over beef prices
- Farmers told beef forum is a waste of time
- Minister says he cannot legally have any role to play in determining beef prices
- Factories say recent criticism of cattle prices does not fairly reflect the strong price paid throughout the year
The Irish Farmers Association has said the Government should see their protest outside the Department of Agriculture today as a ‘warning shot’.
Speaking to beef farmers, at a protest in Dublin today IFA President Joe Healy said the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed must stop standing 'idly by as beef farming goes down the tubes'.
Joe Healy said the protest is a warning shot for Minister Creed and hit out at the Beef Forum.
“Under the Minister’s Chairmanship, the Forum has become a mudguard for inaction. It isn’t even a talking shop. Recent meetings have become ‘death by powerpoint’ as farmers get presentation after presentation designed to run down the clock. There is no real engagement on the key issues,” he said.
“The Minister hasn’t lifted a finger while the factories have robbed farmers by systematically cutting cattle prices. At the same time, prices to farmers are rising in our main export market in the UK.”
He said that while Minister Creed was trying to wash his hands in relation to beef prices he has no excuse next Tuesday in the Budget.
"He must show beef farmers that he is on their side by providing additional support for the Suckler sector," he said.
However, a spokesperson for the Minister said the Government is strongly committed to supporting Ireland’s beef farmers and developing Ireland’s Beef sector.
"The Minister fully recognises it has been a very challenging year for farmers in the context of weather events and fodder issues.
"However to be clear - Minister Creed cannot legally have any role to play in determining the price beef farmers get from the factories nor can he intervene in this process.
"The Minister will robustly articulate the views of farmers to meat industry representatives at this week’s beef roundtable in the regrettable absence of the farm bodies,” the spokesperson said.
However, Joe Healy said the factories have used Minister Creed, flying around the world opening markets and driving exports, while at the same time cutting prices paid to farmers.
“What has happened this year is a real case of the tail wagging the dog and farmers are being asked to carry the costs in loss making beef prices.
The IFA President said the income pressure on cattle farms was a breaking point, following the severe weather conditions all year and the massive increase in costs.
“Factories have torn the hell out of prices and forced them down well below the cost of production.
“This also eroded confidence in the market place and wrecked the mart price for weanlings and stores.
“During this period, despite repeated requests, the Minister never lifted a finger against the factories. He called in the banks, he worked with the co-ops on the fodder issue but never said a word to the meat factories. He gave them free rein and let them run amok”.
Cormac Healy of Meat Industry Ireland (MII), the Ibec group which represents the meat processing sector has said that recent criticism of beef processors on beef price performance fails to recognise the strong price paid throughout the year, with Irish cattle price running at 107pc of EU average price year-to-date and also ignores the challenging market environment at play since mid-summer, particularly across Northern Europe.
“Frustration with the recent weakening in Irish cattle price is understandable but criticism of beef processors ahead of the upcoming Beef Forum fails to take into account market realities and the fact that the year-to-date price paid for Irish cattle remains ahead of last year and only in the last two weeks have current prices dropped below the corresponding period last year.”
Mr Healy said “the exceptionally high beef supplies across all EU markets has put pressure on manufacturing beef prices, leaner manufacturing products in particular. Also, there are heightened sensitivities around imported product in some markets, which has weakened demand and promotional opportunities for Irish beef.”
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