'Glanbia and Kepak Twenty20 Club a 'strait jacket' on farmers'- Cahill

A young calf is the most vulnerable on the farm
A young calf is the most vulnerable on the farm
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

The Twenty20 Beef Club offering by Glanbia and Kepak is a “strait jacket” on farmers and anti-competitive, Fianna Fail TD Jackie Cahill has stated.

The agri companies presented the Twenty20 Beef Club pilot at a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture yesterday where they said it affords members a guaranteed market for their heifers and steers with a predictable and transparent pricing formula at time of slaughter.

However, Fianna Fail’s Jackie Cahill slammed the closed-loop element of the scheme which means that farmers enrolled must buy all their inputs from Glanbia.

“The overall concept of a closed loop is anti-competitive and it’s a bad way for two companies pertaining to try protect farmers income. I think its anti-competitive and a very slippery slope for farmers to go down,” pointed out the Tipperary TD.

“I welcome the idea of promoting calf to beef systems, it’s something that is needed, but the strait jacket farmers are trying to be put in here is wrong. It was announced with fanfare, but I was surprised by the lack of noise from different organisations to it and lack of critical analysis to it.”

Mr Cahill added that he felt there was a suggestion in the scheme that other mills and merchants products were “inferior” to Glanbia.

“There’s a suggestion here that other mills are inferior to what is coming out of Glanbia merchants. I find the insinuation that the product that is coming from a private mill or other co-op mill isn’t up to the standard of Glanbia while not stated directly here the insinuation is there.”

He also said that  Glanbia prices has been "consistently behind price being paid by other processors".

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“Glanbia pay us a top up after six months but the top up has been paid out of our own money, it has been paid by farmers’ money coming out of dividends received by co-ops. It really galls me.”

Head of Beef at Glanbia Martin Ryan explained that the closed loop element of the scheme was due to increasing consumer demands “driven by the environment and consistency around eating quality”.

“It was raised that there was an insinuation towards other merchants. There absolutely is not, it’s because of that consumer led drive for additional attributes for the beef we’re trying to come with a product for them and this is the way we feel we can do it for a cohort  of cattle. It’s a small percentage of the overall kill,” said Mr Ryan.

Glanbia Corporate Affairs Director Pat O’ Keeffe stated that there was “no desire or approach” at targeting other mills and added that the scheme is about bringing certainty and clarity to farmers to help the value of the dairy calf and help the beef producer to get a return on rearing them .

“We operate in 21 counties and in all of those counties there are strong independent merchants and other co-ops competing for farmer business and it’s to the betterment of farmers that they are there. This programme for 6,000 calves won’t change competition. We fully respect that.”

Kepak’s Mick O’ Dowd added both companies are aware that the programme won’t solve every problem in the industry but pointed out that they are already over subscribed and that this shows it is the solution for many farmers.

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