Producer groups could have a positive role to play in the future development of the beef sector in Ireland, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, has maintained.
Responding to a Dáil question from Fianna Fáil's Charlie McConalogue regarding the slow uptake of the producer group concept, Minister Creed insisted that such organisations were given legal recognition in 2016 and facilitators to help establish groups were appointed last year.
However, Deputy McConalogue pointed out that no beef producer groups have been established so far.
The producer organisation concept is based on the group selling of livestock to factories by farmers, with the organisation negotiating the price paid by the meat plants, as well as any supply schedules.
It is viewed as a mechanism to counter the power imbalance between farmers and the meat factories.
"While producer organisations are part of the landscape in other beef-producing countries, particularly in France, the concept is novel to the Irish beef sector," Minister Creed said.
"However, I firmly believe that producer organisations could have a very positive role to play in the future development of the sector in Ireland.
"My Department is continuing in its efforts to drive the potential of this scheme through engagement with an array of stakeholders across different forums.
"My Department has also made provision under the Rural Development Programme for the funding of start-up activities for beef producer organisations."