13 AUGUST 2019
ICSA president Edmond Phelan has said that the beef crisis talks between the farm organisations and the meat industry have yielded some progress but further work will be necessary to make worthwhile change. However, he cautioned that the crisis in the beef sector continues and the threat of a Brexit disaster looms big for primary producers.
“In terms of specifics, we have agreement for a full review of the beef pricing grid and related issues such as the thirty month specification and the bonus payments to quality assured farmers. These are very contentious points for farmers and we expect that Bord Bia analysis on market requirements will inform the process. There is a commitment to more transparency in the food chain, specifically to determine who gets what margin. ICSA strongly contends that the farmer gets an unfair and inadequate share of the final retail price.”
“There was also full agreement that Ireland must press for substantial further support for beef producers arising from ongoing and unprecedented losses from Brexit and the potential for things to get worse before they get better in the event of no-deal on October 31. It was also agreed that Ireland should be pressing the EU to invoke the WTO safeguard clause which would halt beef imports from outside the EU on the basis that there was a threat of serious injury to the industry due to market turmoil.”
“It was also agreed that Bord Bia would drive on with efforts to begin a suckler beef promotion campaign with a view to demonstrating the potential to develop a suckler beef market proposition designed to get higher prices for speciality suckler beef.”
Mr Phelan warned that the above issues would require further negotiation and that the main issue of poor prices is continuing to pose a serious threat to the viability of the whole beef sector in Ireland. “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. Both processors and retailers need to reflect on the fact that there is only so much losses that can be sustained before the whole house of cards comes falling down.”