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ICSA Action On Beef Crisis

Since the current crisis emerged in late 2013, ICSA has mounted a sustained campaign to have the situation resolved in a manner satisfactory to farmers.

ICSA is calling for a regulator to deal with problems such as sudden and unwarranted changes in price and spec, anti-competitive practices designed to manipulate price, difficulties in exporting live stores to Northern Ireland and Britain, savage cuts on animals that don’t meet quality assurance criteria and the overall concern about the suckler herd.

ICSA has petitioned the Minister, the processors and the retailers through a sustained media campaign (see press releases below), to which the Minister responded by setting up the Beef Round Table, which has now met twice. ICSA has made the case for farmers at this forum, but as yet, primary producers have seen no improvement in prices and frustration is growing.

ICSA representatives continue to highlight the crisis on national and local radio and print media along with all other available channels. Scroll down for a full list of all press releases issued since the crisis began.

Members of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association voiced their frustration through a poster campaign at Teagasc’s Beef Open Day at Grange, Co. Meath.

The posters, displayed on approach roads to the event, highlighted the key issues facing beef and suckler farmers, including unsustainably low prices, the need for regulation of the beef industry and the sudden arbitrary change in factory specifications.

“Farmers simply cannot take any more,” said ICSA President Patrick Kent. “Our members have seen their livelihoods eroded by the current crisis and ICSA is demanding an immediate response from both processers and retailers.”


ICSA has a mounted a strong lobbying campaign to ensure that various key stakeholders are aware of the situation and the urgent need for action.

On June 26th, ICSA members in Monaghan met with Mairead McGuinness, MEP & member of the European Agriculture Committee. Read more about the visit here:

On July 10th and 11th, ICSA met Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA to discuss key cross-border issues in relation to the beef crisis.

ICSA Michelle ONeill

In its latest offensive, ICSA has declared war on the abuse of the Quality Assurance Scheme by meat processors and retailers, launching an ultimatum to processors and retailers: deal with the issues raised by farmers, or farmers will have no option but to boycott quality assurance.

ICSA’s key demands are as follows:

  • A quality assured bonus for all cattle coming from a Quality Assured Farm.
  • An end to the undermining of the mart trade with artificial rules on residency and number of movements.
  • The removal of proposed weight limits of 380kg for quality continental suckler herd bulls; to be replaced with a strategy for viable prices up to 450kg for this stock.
  • An end to dual pricing whereby the base price is no longer available to certain categories of animals and some prime animals are getting prices below cow price.
  • Immediate stabilisation of beef prices, followed by price increases as market demand improves.
  • A resolution to the problem of exporting stores to Northern Ireland.

ICSA understands that these issues will take time to solve and for that reason will hold off until November 1st before calling on all farmers, farm organisations and marts to withdraw co-operation with the Quality Assurance Scheme.

ICSA’s ongoing campaign has received front page coverage in the Irish Independent Farming over three consecutive weeks, July 15th, 27th and 29th.

ICSA has focussed on all possible solutions to the crisis, and has been critical of labelling issues for beef born in the Republic of Ireland and finished/slaughtered in Northern Ireland, again getting front page coverage on this issue.

Farming Indo Aug 19 2014 1

On September 5th, ICSA members staged a protest at ABP Rathkeale in order to further highlight the ongoing crisis, and a letter was also handed in to the factory.

ABP Rathkeale protest September 5th 2014 Small

On September 9th, West Cork ICSA staged a similar protest at ABP Bandon, attended by president Patrick Kent.

Bandon protest 4

On September 12th, ICSA called for all farmers and farm organisations to support its threatened withdrawal from the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme by signing a petition, either online or at the Ploughing Championships. Click here to sign the petition.

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Press Releases issued by ICSA since the crisis began:

December 2nd:  ICSA highlights emerging crisis of confidence
December 12th: ICSA outlines widespread anger at bull beef crisis
January 3rd: ICSA calls on meat processors & Bord Bia to provide clarity on future of beef industry
January 20th: ICSA slams beef factories on bull crisis
February 5th: ICSA highly critical of anti-competitive practices in beef industry
February 31st: ICSA questions minister’s relaxed attitude on beef
April 14th: ICSA urges Beef Round Table to focus on restoring order and confidence
April 17th: ICSA pushes case for regulator at Beef Round Table
April 28th: ICSA outlines beef price transparency requirements
May 2nd: ICSA refutes claims that change in specs was to meet supermarket requirements
May 30th: ICSA shows that farmers would make more on the dole than in suckling
June 9th: ICSA states that contracts are not the solution to the beef crisis
June 12th: ICSA again calls on minister to resolve the crisis
June 17th: ICSA urges farmers to make concerns known to processors at Beef Open Day
June 24th: ICSA estimates that only 1 in 4 cattle are getting QA bonus
June 24th: ICSA criticises minister’s comments on farm household incomes
June 30th: ICSA Monaghan members discuss beef crisis with Mairead McGuinness MEP
July 4th: ICSA discusses beef crisis with Minister Coveney
July 4th: ICSA responds to minister’s call for processors to take action
July 11th: ICSA meets NI Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill
Jul 11th: ICSA calls on re-appointed Minister Coveney to take action on beef crisis
July 15th: ICSA declares war on abuse of Quality Assured Scheme
July 22nd: ICSA criticises Bord Bia defence of QA Scheme
July 23rd: ICSA points out that Teagasc figures re-emphasise difficulties facing beef farmers
July 29th: ICSA highlights €168m loss to beef farmers over past 12 months, despite rise in UK retail prices
August 6th: ICSA calls for an end to 30-month specification
August 8th: ICSA criticises €5 steak fixation
August 18th: ICSA challenges Tesco assertions on beef labelling
August 19th: ICSA concerns for future of suckler herd
August 20th: ICSA reiterates call for withdrawal from Quality Assured Scheme & end to ‘softly-softly’ approach

September 12th: ICSA shows red card to abuse of Quality Assurance Scheme

For more photos, visit our Beef Open Day Gallery, see our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter, @ICSAIreland.

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