16 FEBRUARY 2021
ICSA has accused the meat industry of a relentless narrative of negativity to undermine beef farmer confidence, in light of suggestions that their costs will increase 40% due to Brexit related disruption.
ICSA beef chairman Edmund Graham said that the answers supplied to the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture and the Marine by Meat Industry Ireland were selective at best and designed to hide the fact that, for too long, meat processors have taken the easy option of passing back costs to the primary producer instead of to the purchaser.
“Any extra costs associated with customs processes, and disruptions in logistics should be passed on to the consumer, particularly in the UK. It is absurd that UK consumers expect to be shielded from the consequences of Brexit because Irish processors would rather hit their own suppliers. This argument that UK supermarkets will go elsewhere is just a scare tactic.
UK supermarkets have invested a lot of capital in imposing rigorous traceability and quality assurance standards on British and Irish farmers. It doesn’t hold water to argue that they would jettison all this and take beef from South America instead. Previously the argument was that it was the wholesale and catering sectors that were fickle; but now these sectors are much less significant due to Covid while retail sales of beef have risen.
Mr Graham went on to challenge the meat processing sector to set out in detail how the Brexit disruption will add 40% in costs. “ICSA is insisting that we need more price transparency, and we want this delivered through the Food Ombudsman who will need extra powers through legislation. But in the meantime, if the meat processors want to make public statements about increased costs, they need to quantify this in detail or else withdraw it.”
“In any other business, increased costs of raw materials have to be factored into sales pricing. Farmers are now facing even greater costs in supplying beef as fertiliser and ration costs are spiralling upwards and beef price cuts are totally unacceptable. Winter finishers are at nothing producing beef for below €4/kg; in reality the price needs to be closer to €5/kg.”