Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture and Food Charlie McConalogue has called on Minister Creed to immediately convene the Beef Forum.

Deputy McConalogue says the forum is needed to enable all stakeholders to input their proposals on how beef farmers can be directly supported.

Deputy McConalogue said, “The Minister must make it clear to factories that the fodder crisis cannot be used to drop the price paid to farmers for cattle, as the severe fodder shortage crisis has transformed into a full-blown income crisis.

“Increased input costs for farmers have risen by up to 15% this year on average according to farming groups. This could increase with further fodder shortages over the winter months.

“It is incredulous that beef factories are pulling prices, at the very moment farmers are at their wits end with prices below €3.80/kg. In contrast, cattle prices in Britain, our main beef export market, have increased in the last few weeks in contrast to the prices cuts from Irish factories.

“The Beef Forum last met in February and an urgent meeting is now necessitated. If it is to be a meaningful entity, the Government must convene it on a regular basis and ensure timely decisions are taken to strengthen the role of the sector’s primary producer.

“Suckler beef farmers are a very vulnerable sector with low incomes of around €13,000 per annum. With the double whammy of Brexit and a potential Mercosur deal on the cards, Government policy should be to support not to forget this sector.

“A key plank of Fianna Fáil policy is to campaign for a dedicated suckler fund in the next CAP. In the meantime, Government must immediately commence the process of working towards the introduction of a €200 suckler cow payment.”