There is a war on red meat - and attacks are on the rise, farmers warn
Farmers are being confronted with a “war” on red meat, with attacks on the rise, a lobby group has warned.
Ireland must focus on sending a serious and clear marketing message that Irish grass fed beef is best, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed was warned.
The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) president Patrick Kent told those gathered for their AGM in Portlaoise that the mood across the country was “despondent”.
Hitting out at recent comment’s by the Taoiseach that he was reducing his red meat intake, he said this was not compatible with the “national interest”.
“We cannot condone the Taoiseach of the country saying he is reducing his meat consumption on health or climate change grounds,” said the Wexford farmer.
Farmers voiced their concerns to the Cork minister as the Government was urged to put in place a “backstop” for the multi-million euro beef industry as market panic has already taken the floor out of the market.
Mr Creed was put under pressure by farmers to make clear the finer details of the emergency aid package it intends to deliver for the meat sector in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
“We need a commitment to put a realistic floor under the price of beef with a trigger price that ensures that current prices cannot be allowed to fall any further,” said Mr Kent, with half of the €2.5bn beef exports destined for the UK.
He said a farmer must cover all costs and leave a margin to be sustainable. “In the beef sector, the only rational conclusion is that we need to reduce production,” he said.
Farmers also called for the gardai to take a “stronger line on rural crime”, with a “massive increase” in garda resources being used to breathalyse people.
In addition, with marts under pressure and closing due to insurance costs, Mr Kent called on the Government to get to grips with this. “Compo culture is thriving and we cannot afford this cost any longer,” he said.
Mr Kent said that payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) must be capped so that farmers receiving a payment of less than €50,000 can avoid cuts.
“Capping should not allow any loophole for wages for employees,” he said, adding it must be about supporting the family farm.
A call was also made for a comprehensive review of the beef grid.
“When a farmer sends cattle to the factory, he needs clarity not confusion on what each beast will make,” he said. “We want to see better bonuses on U grade cattle and this should be paid for by higher penalties on P grade cattle.”
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