Cork North West TD Michael Moynihan is accusing the Agriculture Minister of abandoning beef farmers in the county. Despite a recent round table discussion with all the main players in the industry, figures from the ICMSA have found that Irish beef farmers are being paid much less for their produce than their counterparts in the UK, France, Germany and Northern Ireland.
“While these figures come as no surprise, they are extremely worrying. This study, which looked at prices achieved over the past four years, reveals a consistent decline in the prices being paid to Irish farmers, relative to other countries. This is something that has been highlighted time and time again, but the situation had to reach crisis levels before Minister Coveney agreed to sit down with producers and processors to address the problem”, said Deputy Moynihan.
“Since the start of the year farmers in Cork have seen the prices they’re being paid plummet, while at the same time large retailers are increasing profits. The Minister has refused to challenge processors who have changed age and weight specifications, and cut the price they’re paying to producers, while small family farmers take the hit.
“Ireland has long had a reputation as a high quality producer of beef, yet the prices being paid to our farmers do not reflect that. The ICSMA research reveals that in 2011 R3 steer beef was 4c/kg lower than the EU average. That fell to 26c/kg below average this year. The beef industry here is becoming unsustainable and the Government is doing nothing more than paying lipservice to producers, without acknowledging the full extent of the problem.
“Minister Coveney is managing his optics carefully by meeting with the main stakeholders in the industry earlier this month, but what farmers really need is action. He should be taking a harder line with large processors and retailers and evening the playing field between them and small family farmers. Producers in the South West have taken enough hits over the past three years, with changes to Farm Assist payments and cuts to the Disadvantaged Area Scheme. These struggling producers need the Minister to fight their corner, or they’re facing the real possibility of going out of business.
“I’m urging Minister Coveney to stand over the high quality produce that is farmed in Cork, and across Ireland, and to demand a fair price for farmers. If he doesn’t the very viability of the beef sector, an industry worth €2 billion a year to the agri-sector, will be at risk”, he concluded.