Fianna Fáil has brought forward a private members’ motion with 14 policy actions in the Dáil last night to highlight the urgent action needed to safeguard the livelihoods of farmers’ in the beef sector.

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan Monaghan and Midlands-North-West European Parliament candidate Brendan Smith said, “The beef sector and suckler farmers are concerned. Prices are on the floor and potential chaos staring them in the face from a no deal Brexit, the government must immediately take swift action to safeguard the sector.

“This week I was in Roscommon, and  spoke at an agriculture meeting in Louth. Across the region farmers are struggling to earn a living. There is massive concern in the sector with Brexit impacting on everything.

“Successive Fine Gael led governments have reneged on their commitments under the Beef Forum, including the introduction of a market index for price transparency. A hard Brexit and any potential Mercosur deal would be disastrous for the beef sector and would see many livelihoods in Cavan-Monaghan go to the wall.

“We have detailed 14 policy measures that must be implemented immediately by the government. Without these changes I fail to see how those in the agri-food sector can meet the severe challenges they face.

“Our policy actions include seeking market disturbance aid from the EU as pertained under CAP. Other measures include opening the Brexit Loan Scheme for farmers which was first announced in October 2017, increasing live exports of calves by enhancing lairage capacity; ensure that the next CAP is fully funded to provide a €200 suckler cow payment as well as the introduction of a beef market index. It is my party’s view that a new independent authority is required to enforce the new EU Directive on unfair trading practices to ensure farmers buy in.

“We are also calling for a full review of the QPS grid and more robust measures around carcase trim and grading, including publishing details of on-the-spot fines for factories breaching carcase trimming rules.

“The government must give its full support to lend help to the farming communities across the north west, midlands, border regions,” concluded Deputy Brendan Smith.