Independent TD, Michael Fitzmaurice, has called for a “regulator with teeth that can seize computers to find out what is going on inside” the beef sector.
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.
Regulator for beef sector
In his opening speech, Fitzmaurice said: “Anybody who thinks an ombudsman, and I think the government is looking that way, will solve anything, is delusional.”
“Every day, every one of us every day gets letters back to constituents that they can go to the Ombudsman. What happens? Nothing.”
“This time last year, beef was about €3.50-€3.60/kg. Today, we have a deficit of 100,000 cattle. There is no four-movement rule at the moment; they do not mind if they had 24 movements.”
“There is also no 30-month rule. All they want is cattle because there is a deficit of 100,000 cattle this year, and they will pay €4.15 or €4.20/kg for something that is over 36 months.”
Grading machine removed from plant
“While last year, you had to have them [cattle] under 30 months and with three movements. It just shows what type of stuff is going on. The Beef Taskforce should be abandoned. We talked about weighing scales coming in, in factories; that never came in.”
“I know of an incident at the moment where a grading machine was not working in a factory, and it was actually the factory that took it out.”
“The Department of Agriculture was supposed to look at that day in and day out. How much of a loss is that to farmers right around this country?”
€250-€300/head price difference
The deputy revealed that he will work alongside Deputy Michael McNamara to bring forward a bill regarding a regulator.
“I believe that if we do not cut to the chase, there will be one loser in all of this. The farmer is the price taker, and the factories and retailers are the price makers.”
Concluding his speech, Fitzmaurice also commented on the difference between beef prices in Ireland and the UK.
“There are reports being done by people, who obviously do not understand too much about the whole beef industry saying, ‘Well, they are not making that much out of it’.”
“But if you look at the price of beef today, last year and on the world market. Bring an animal to England today; there is €250 to €300 for the same animal killed in England as killed here.”
“If that does not show you that there is something seriously wrong in the market in this country, then we as well to give up,” Fitzmaurice concluded.