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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a fifth-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 company in 2015.
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Beef Taskforce to be wound up as it has ‘fulfilled its remit’

Minister Charlie McConalogue has published a report on the Beef Taskforce’s work and confirmed that it will be wound up.

Chairperson, Mr. Michael Dowling, submitted the report – which can be accessed via the DAFM’s website – to the minister’s office.

According to McConalogue, the report “details the progress made by the Beef Taskforce in fulfilling its remit of monitoring the implementation of the actions under the September 2019 agreement”.

Beef Taskforce 

The report states that 38 actions in the beef sector agreement:

  • 28 are complete;
  • 2 are “in progress”;
  • The remaining 8 are “ongoing actions”.

In a statement on Monday, November 29th, 2021, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said:

“I am pleased to publish the report of the chair of the Beef Taskforce. I am satisfied with the group’s work in monitoring and progressing the implementation of the actions agreed by stakeholders in the beef sector agreement of September 15th, 2019.”

“Also, I take this opportunity to thank the chair Michael Dowling for his dedication and diligence in progressing this important work, and to thank all Taskforce members for their consistent, constructive engagement in the process.”

Beef sector actions 

McConalogue highlighted what he regards as “both the immediate financial benefits and improvements to conditions of sale for farmers emanating from that agreement”.

He listed the following “subsequent strategic actions” for the sector’s benefit, including:

  • Establishing a suckler brand development oversight group. Bord Bia’s allocation of up to €6 million over three years to progress the development of a suckler brand proposition
  • “Significant input” into the application for PGI status for ‘Irish Grass Fed Beef’, which the DAFM submitted to the European Commission in November 2020. The minister said this will progress to the next stage of the process “shortly”.
  • Publishing three “substantial” market transparency reports;
    • Price composition along the supply chain
    • An Independent Review of Market and Customer Requirements of Irish Beef
    • Competition Law in the Beef Sector
  • Additional price transparency through enhancement of the Beef Pricewatch App,  development of the Bord Bia benchmark price tracker; and the recent I. Number 449 of 2021 – European Union (Market Transparency) Regulations 2021
  • A scientific review of the effect of prices on the Quality Payment system and a review of the hot and cold weighing systems by Teagasc
Winding up taskforce

The taskforce also engaged with “key” stakeholders. These included the EU Commission on price transparency, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission on its role and met Irish retailers and processors.

“In submitting the report, the Beef Taskforce chair also outlined his recommendations in relation to the future of stakeholder engagement in the sector.”

“Mr Dowling advised that it is his view, and the shared view of the majority of the members of the Taskforce that the group has fulfilled its remit of monitoring the implementation of the Actions under the 2019 Beef Sector Agreement.”

“For this reason, I have accepted the chair’s recommendation that the Beef Taskforce in its current format be wound up.”

New forum

Minister McConalogue went on to say that the chair did highlight the importance of the continuation of stakeholder engagement on ongoing strategic issues.

Dowling recommended that the minister establish a new forum to drive this.

The minister concluded:

“I agree with the chair’s additional recommendation that we need ongoing stakeholder engagement on the key strategic issues facing the sector.”

“I will be putting arrangements in place to establish a new strategic forum for the sector.”

“Ensuring there is a long-term, sustainable and viable future for our suckler and beef farmers is a key priority of mine as minister. I think the Beef Taskforce has played a key role.”

“We must now build on that work over the time ahead.”

The minister pointed to the €150/cow Suckler Carbon Efficiency Scheme in the next CAP and the work around a PGI standard for grass-fed Irish beef.

“There are reasons to look to the future of the sector with optimism. I truly believe in the sector. I will continue to support it and our farmers,” he concluded.

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