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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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VIDEO: ‘When an animal is hanging up in a factory, who is going to say it is 31-months-old?’

Independent TD, Danny Healy-Rae, has called on the government to “take a stand” and show whether they stand with beef farmers and small farmers in rural Ireland.

The deputy spoke yesterday (Wednesday, May 26th) as the Rural Independent Group brought forward a motion to establish an independent regulator for the beef sector.

He believes a regulator has the potential to ensure “farmers are properly paid”.

“This regulator could also find out what is happening with the retailers. The retailers are saying they never looked for a four-movement rule.”

The deputy stressed that beef farmers are the backbone of rural areas and all of Ireland.

“70,000 beef farmers are continuously being put under pressure by the factories when they decide to reduce the prices. 10,000 or more are involved in the processing industry, which is worth more than €2.5 billion to the economy.”


In addition, Healy-Rae called for the abolition of the “ridiculous” four-movement rule and 30-month rule.

“The factories are definitely blackguarding the beef producers and finishers. You have the four-movement rule and the 30-month rule.”

“I told the last Taoiseach, when an animal is hanging up in a factory, who is going to say it is 31-months-old, or moved through farms five or seven times?”

“These are ridiculous rules, but I know what they are about. They are to give the factories the knowledge because they are able to get that data when those animals are going to come to them.”

“They are going to have animals to match out of their own feedlots and bring down the price the farmer should get. This is what they are doing; controlling the prices.”

“I ask the government to remove those two rules. Farmers have gone through too much.”

The deputy said that soaring fertiliser, feedstuff, and diesel costs have not been reflected in current beef price quotes. “We will not see prices in factories matching that. Prices have gone down in recent days.”

Trade deals

He said that the government must act to provide “greater care and protection” to producers and consumers to ensure Ireland’s emerging international trading environment continues into the horizon.

Healy-Rae stressed that farmers are under threat from Mercosur and New Zealand, and Australian exports. As a result, he highlighted the need for additional markets and outlets for cattle.

“We hear the English are doing a deal with the Australians. We are supplying the greater part of our beef production to the UK. If we lose that, farmers are going to be put under more pressure by the factories.”

“I appeal to ye [the government] to ensure we open new markets for live cattle exports, regardless of what the Greens are saying.”

“Farmers are being victimised and treated like eco-criminals. Everything is down on the farmer,” he added.

You can read Michael Fitzmaurice’s commentary.

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