Several Independent TDs collectively voiced their frustration over factory beef price cuts during a Dáil debate earlier this week.
Independent TD for Laois-Offaly Carol Nolan called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to commit to establishing an independent regulator for this sector, separate to the ombudsman.
She believes this is the only way forward as factories are “not playing ball”. “I know that when he was in opposition, the Minister called for an independent regulator, and I stress to him that there is a need for it [independent regulator].”
“At the end of the day, the producer who is producing high-quality beef is not being treated fairly. I call on the minister to resolve that issue.”
Factory beef price cuts
Deputy Nolan stressed that it is evident that there is “no honest trading” in the supply chain and that there is not a sustainable model in terms of the meat factories and supermarkets.”
“We need to come to grips with that because it is the reality and fact of the matter. We are facing an unacceptable situation that constantly disadvantages farmers. It is leading to a situation where beef and suckler farmers are exiting the sector and opting for dairy.
She warned that this will lead to animal welfare issues as calves will be abandoned by those beef farmers who are leaving the sector and going into dairy.
Referring to the matter, Independent TD for Kerry, Michael Healy-Rae, said: “On factory prices, something is radically wrong when farmers are producing beef and cannot make a marginal, small, modest profit on it.”
“Something has to be done about this. There has been enough talk about it, but, unfortunately, there has been no action.”
Furthermore, Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway, Michael Fitzmaurice asked the minister why the Beef Market Taskforce is not sitting.
He asked the minister if he will support a beef regulator and if he will implement a suckler welfare scheme.
“The price of beef has plummeted all of a sudden. It is as well to tell the minister straight out that there is speculation that some of the retail operators have told the factories to pull back to three-days-a-week because there will be a shortage of cattle later, and the longer they hold back to three days a week, the more of an opportunity there will be to flood the market.”
“This needs investigating, but the task force is not sitting. Will the minister get the chairman of the taskforce to sit at least once a month?”
“Farmers only hear what happens a month after the taskforce meets. They need to be able to see what happens live. That is important.” Fitzmaurice added.