Fianna Fáil’s Agriculture spokesperson Éamon Ó Cuív is calling for the appointment of a regulator for the beef sector.
It follows similar requests from the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association, which believes a regulator would create a more equitable balance of power between the farmer and the processor.
“The beef sector is an integral part of the Irish Agri-Food industry and is worth €2bn a year to the economy. However, over the past 12 months we have witnessed a collapse in bull beef prices with factories shifting the goal posts on producers”, said Deputy Ó Cuív.
“Beef producers are being penalised by processors who are changing specifications of age and weight and refusing to slaughter cattle. This has caused prices to plummet. In fact, the traditional winter premium has completely disappeared. If the government is serious about achieving the Food Harvest 2020 targets for the beef industry and protecting the national herd it needs to establish a beef regulator to balance the powers of processors and retailers.
“What we need now is a regulator to oversee the industry. They should be entrusted with ensuring that a small handful of processors are not allowed to unfairly dominate the market. The regulator needs to be given real powers and resources to oversee the sector and to make direct recommendations to government. The regulator could also examine the possibility of establishing a code of conduct for retailers, which are a vital link in the food chain.
Deputy Ó Cuív made the comments while hosting a series of public meetings across the country to discuss the latest CAP reforms.
“This deal agreed by Minister Simon Coveney sees the first ever overall reduction in CAP funding. I am very concerned that this agreement doesn’t focus enough on family farms, and could in fact penalise farmers with low entitlements. We need a fair system of CAP for all farmers, to ensure they remain viable by getting fair prices for them from larger supermarket chains and suppliers.
“Fianna Fáil has put together alternative CAP proposals, which provide a fairer deal for Irish farmers. We once again challenge the Minister to debate the two alternative proposals publicly and allow farmers decide for themselves which is the better proposal for Irish farmers.