August 14, 2019


Ireland's agriculture minister encourages further talks to resolve beef prices issue


Players within Ireland's beef industry should continue to engage in "constructive dialogue" with each other, said the country's Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, following over 12 hours of talks between the Minister's Department and agencies, farm organisations and meat factory representatives.


About more than a dozen beef processors in Ireland were recently affected by protests launched by farmers' group Beef Plan Movement which complained about prices paid by beef processors.


The talks, which aimed to resolve pricing issues, had seen progress, according to Creed. Representatives from the Beef Plan Movement, IFA, ICMSA, ICSA, INHFA, Macra and Meat Industry Ireland (MII) attended the meeting which was held at the Irish agriculture department's Backweston facility.


There is some progress made on market transparency and the introduction of a price index, as well as a commitment to examine market specifications in the grid that affect prices, IFA president Joe Healy said.


However, there is a need for more work and a full review in the beef pricing grid and related issues like bonus payments to quality assured farmers, ICSA president Edmond Phelan said, noting that these matters are "contentious points for farmers."


As for other areas of progress in the talks, these include agreement to push for more Brexit supports, increased efforts to start a suckler beef promotion campaign and pressing the European Union to suspend beef imports.


Nevertheless, weak prices still remain a key challenge for the Irish beef sector. "The beef price is well below the cost of production and farmers cannot endure losing money hand over fist. Clearly, there are a variety of issues at play in terms of supply and demand in depressed and unstable markets," Phelan said.


"Both processors and retailers need to reflect on the fact that there is only so much loss that can be sustained before the whole house of cards comes falling down."


- Irish Farmers Journal