Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD has said that the country’s beef farmers are paying a heavy price for the lack of focus of an increasingly hands-off Agriculture Minister. Deputy Martin was speaking after meeting with beef farmers in Castlerea County Roscommon.
He commented, “The beef industry in this country is in the midst of a crisis that threatens its very viability. Given the centrality of agri-food to the country’s economic recovery strategy, it would be fair to assume that the Minister responsible would be throwing himself and all his energy into solving the problem. Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be the case.
“Increasingly, farmers and their representatives believe that they are paying the price for the lack of focus from an Agriculture Minister who has become increasingly hands-off in his approach to his portfolio. There is no sense among farmers of a Minister or a Government with a plan to tackle this crisis. Indeed there is an increasing anger and despair at the fact that neither the Minister nor the Government seem to even have an interest in tackling it.
“There are concrete steps that can be taken. For example, my colleague Éamon Ó Cuív has called for significant reform of the sector to put beef farming on a much more sustainable footing. Our proposal for a beef market regulator would ensure that a small number of processors and multiples would not be able to unfairly dominate the market. Unfortunately, the Government appears determined to simply ignore his and many others’ suggestions.
“The Minister has talked the talk about maintaining and building on Fianna Fáil’s Food Harvest 2020 strategy, but he is not walking the walk. Our beef farmers, one of the key pillars of our agri-food sector, are under siege and the Minister is simply not involving himself.
“This attitude needs to change, and it needs to change quickly.”