Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, has criticised the Agriculture Minister for his complete lack of action and urgency in dealing with the collapse of beef prices in Ireland. Deputy Ó Cuív was particularly critical of the lack of action by Minster Coveney on the urgent issues concerning the labelling of Irish beef.
Deputy Ó Cuív raised the issue during Leaders’ Questions today and also expressed his disappointment at the fact that Minister Coveney failed to show up for his allocated Question Time today.
“We are in the midst of a fully blown crisis with beef prices in the country. We have had two separate protests by the IFA this week at the Minister’s poor handling of the crisis and an apparent lack of interest in dealing with it. During his allocated Question Time this morning, Minister Coveney didn’t deem it serious enough to show up and answer questions on this.
“The figures are stark. Prices are down 20% this year, with farmers now receiving €200-€300 less per head on average. One of the main issues that is affecting the price of bull beef is the labelling problem.
“Cattle that were reared in Ireland and finished in the North are no longer considered from the North for labelling purposes. This has come to the fore recently and cattle are neither Irish nor British in terms of labels, it is preventing Irish cattle from being sold in the UK as supermarkets only want beef reared and finished in the one country.
“It is extremely frustrating that Minister Coveney has not convened a meeting with his Northern Irish and British counterparts to find a solution to this problem. There is effectively a trade barrier being put in place for Irish beef and the Minister must take action on this now.
“Fianna Fáil is also calling for the immediate appointment of a beef regulator to independently oversee the beef industry and work at finding solutions to the crisis. The Minister is distracted with other issues but the 80,000 dry stock farmers in the country cannot afford any more procrastination from the Minister on this.”