“It is absolutely ludicrous that the best model of beef production in the world, that of the Irish suckler-beef herd, continues to operate at a loss.”
That is what Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on agriculture, Matt Carthy, told Minister Charlie McConalogue, during a Dáil debate on agriculture, fisheries and food security on Thursday, May 12th, 2022.
During the session, the deputy highlighted that the DAFM must introduce an enforcement authority to monitor processors and retailers that have “strangled the sector for far too long and hold them to account”.
He told the house: “I have often said here and elsewhere that there is money to be made in Irish beef.”
“That is the big secret of Irish agriculture. The problem is that the people who are making that money are not the people who are doing the work, our primary producers.”
He stated that the DAFM has promised an office for transparency and fairness rather than the meat regulator farmers “would like to see”.
Carthy appealed to Minister McConalogue to ensure that the authority becomes a corporate enforcement authority that has full access to the accounts of processors and retailers in respect of the food they sell so.
He said this would enable farmers to “finally” have a level playing field.
Furthermore, Carthy told the minister that “the trust is that Irish farmers will not survive unless they get fair prices for their produce”.
“The minister referenced significant and unsustainable increases in input costs and some of the supports that have been made available supports; I would describe as minimal and, all too often, too little too late.”
“He referenced the crisis reserve but has yet to give a commitment that his government will co-finance that crisis reserve to the maximum permitted, 200%.”
“I hope he will take the opportunity to do so today. We still do not know whether Irish farmers will see a benefit from the Brexit adjustment reserve fund or whether important sectors, such as the pig sector and others, will be able to survive into the future.”
Concluding, Carthy highlighted that the truth is that if we want the model of Irish farming to be one of premiumisation and for it to be sustainable and in line with Ireland’s climate obligations and all of the stated objectives of members of this house, Irish farmers must receive a premium product for their premium price.