Farm Ireland

Sunday 18 February 2018

FFA urge new IFA president Downey to present a united front to beef factories

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

As the IFA officially hands over the reigns to its new president Eddie Downey today, a Northern Irish farm organisation has called on the new leader to present a more united front for farmers negotiating with beef processors.

Farmers For Action (FFA) claims that the new IFA leader has ignored a letter sent to him shortly after he was elected imploring him to hold a meeting of all farm organisations North and South to devise a strategy to increase Irish beef prices.

William Taylor of FFA in Northern Ireland said that Ireland had replaced Brazil as a source of cheap beef for the British market.

"British beef prices are way below the true cost of production of €6.18/kg, but Irish beef prices are way below that again making us no friends of English, Scottish or Welsh farmers," he said.

Mr Taylor claimed that the IFA holds a key to improving beef prices if they agreed to calling a round table meeting of all the farm organisations in Ireland. "Last time this was mooted, virtually all the farm organisations in Ireland North and South, bar the IFA, said they would be there if the invite was forthcoming," insisted Mr Taylor.

"The view is they are the biggest farm organisation in Ireland and they call the shots. Meanwhile their farmers starve of income," said the Co Derry beef, sheep and tillage farmer.

"Now is Mr Downey's chance to do his bit for Irish and British farmers. The IFA may be a large organisation but it is not big enough to do this on its own," he said. "Now is the time for action on beef and an opportunity for the new president before the establishment brow beats him," concluded Mr Taylor.

A spokesman for the IFA rejected Mr Taylor's criticism.

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"His analysis is incorrect because Ireland is a key, strategic supplier of quality beef to the British market," he said.

He also insisted that the IFA works very closely with all of the main farm unions across Britain and holds regular meetings on livestock issues.

"The IFA has organised a meeting with the UFU, NFU Scotland, NFU England and Wales on beef prices, market access, retailers and other issues," he added.

While he accepted that the huge price differential between Irish and British prices had to be narrowed, the spokesman maintained that progress has been made on domestic beef prices compared to EU prices in recent years.

Irish Independent