Pressure mounts on Coveney as beef price anger increases
IFA warn crisis will be an issue at local and European elections
ONGOING tensions in the beef sector are set to spill over into local and European elections as the IFA cranked up the pressure on the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, this week.
Analysis by the Farming Independent shows that Irish beef producers have experienced price declines up to six times greater than their EU counterparts, with R3 heifer and steer prices down by up to €200/hd over the last 12 months.
The IFA's livestock chairman Henry Burns warned the Minister at a beef meeting last week that "he is the Minister for Agriculture and not the Minister for factories."
"He defended them very well last year in the horse meat scandal, but now he needs to show that he is on the farmers' side because he has not done that yet.
"There is a credibility issue for the Minister," added Mr Burns. "He appears to be completely under-estimating the level of frustration and anger at farm level. With the local and European elections just around the corner and cattle farming being in every single parish, the beef crisis will be a major political issue."
Mr Burns also demanded that both Bord Bia and the Minister meet immediately with the Northern Minister, Michelle O'Neill, to insist that Irish cattle are not blocked out of these markets with "artificial anti-competitive barriers."
He added that farmers needed guarantees that factories would not have access to the Department of Agriculture's animal movements database.