14 JANUARY 2021
ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham believes a comprehensive set of terms and conditions must be attached to the €100m Capital Investment Scheme for the Processing & Marketing of Agricultural Products, recently announced by Government. “All farm schemes have strict conditions attached to them, and these conditions must be adhered to in order to draw down funds. There is no reason for this scheme to be any different,” he said.
Mr Graham said he agreed with a Farmers Journal editorial piece on the issue which suggested that the funding should be linked to sorting out transparency around the meat industry particularly around price and profitability.
“Price transparency, from the beef processors in particular, must be included as a strict condition. It is not good enough that processors with turnovers in the billions are able to hide behind unlimited company structures. We need an ombudsman with the power to audit who gets what from the food chain and eligibility for this fund must be conditional on processors co-operating with this.”
“There must also be full visibility around how the money will be used and how it will lead to improved farm gate price.”
Ideally this money should be used in a manner that is complementary to the grass fed PGI and suckler brands. “These funds must not be used to subsidise existing marketing initiatives. We need to see new markets delivering a premium price to primary producers of premium grass fed and suckler beef.”
“To this end ICSA believes that the scheme also needs to assist smaller scale processors and smaller food companies developing niche or artisanal products. ICSA wants to see some of the fund ring-fenced for these categories rather than seeing it all hoovered up by companies with hundreds of millions of turnover in the dairy and beef sectors.”