Farmer producer group limits are 'restrictive'
Membership restrictions could undermine the new producer organisations (POs) being set up to give farmers collective bargaining powers, an industry expert has warned.
The Department of Agriculture is drawing up legislation to establish the groups as legal bodies within the beef sector.
At the recent Beef Roundtable, Department officials outlined proposals setting a minimum limit of 50 members for each PO whose members would also have to commit to selling 75pc of their cattle through the PO.
However, agri-business consultant Ciaran Dolan said a minimum of 50 members is "far too high and would be restrictive".
He said the new legislation would be a strong step in strengthening the negotiating abilities of farmers without falling foul of the Competition Authority.
But he urged Minister Simon Coveney to consider a lower minimum number to fully empower farmers.
"A high minimum number would not deliver on this and would not be in keeping with the spirit and purpose of the relevant EU legislation."
He added that many farmers would be reluctant to become involved in such large groups.