Aontú leader, Peadar Tóibín TD, has hit out against all establishment parties in Leinster House for their “unwillingness to resolve the continuing crisis in the Irish beef sector”.
He explained that his party’s Equitable Beef Pricing Bill passed first stage debate in the Dáil in October, but no other political parties have provided “the time necessary” to allow the bill to be debated at second stage.
He said these parties are effectively “stalling it” and “hindering solutions” for farmers.
Unfairness in Irish beef industry
“Our bill is aimed at tackling the unfairness that remains rampant in the Irish beef industry, with farmers and their families across the country struggling to make a living while the processors and supermarkets continue to make supernormal profits from the same beef.”
“It is time that the establishment parties listened to the needs of farmers and farming communities and provide sufficient time in the Dáil to allow the Aontú Bill to be debated,” Tóibín stressed.
‘Great uncertainty and challenges’
He said that Aontú has “been to the fore” in supporting fair treatment and fair prices for beef farmers across the country. “It is clear that the beef industry, as it currently constituted, is unsustainable.”
“Beef farmers are selling their produce at below cost prices while a collection of processors and supermarkets multiples make astounding profits on the same product.
“In the current climate, Irish agriculture is already facing great uncertainty and challenges, not least Phil Hogan’s EU-Mercosur trade deal that will pave the way for the importation of cheap South American beef into the EU market.”
Break-even price for produce
He explained that Aontú’s Equitable Beef Pricing Bill aims to ensure that farmers will be given at least a break-even price for their produce. “This is a very moderate proposition that is concerned with doing what is right by the Irish farming community and rural Ireland in general.”
“We were previously told by other parties, including Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, that they would support the Aontú Bill.”
“That support has not been forthcoming in any meaningful sense and the Aontú Bill, which could significantly improve the living standards of the worst-off farmers, has not been given the time of day by these parties.”
“We ask those parties once again to reconsider their blocking actions and instead ensure that there is Dáil debate time for the Bill to bring about its passage into law.”