PRICE MUST BE CENTRE STAGE ALONG WITH 30 MONTHS, GRID REFORM AND TRANSPARENCY OVER FOOD CHAIN AT BEEF TALKS

6 SEPTEMBER 2019

The unsustainably low beef price, 30 month rule and other beef grid issues, and price transparency over the food chain are key issues for ICSA ahead of Monday’s beef talks according to ICSA president Edmond Phelan.

“It is now up to the beef processors to bring real offers to the table at these talks if they want to resume business and ensure a future for beef processing in Ireland. They have completely forgotten that if farmers can’t make a profit, there will be no future for their business either.”

“We expect the meat industry to engage on the premise that prices are unsustainably low and all mechanisms through which a sustainable beef price can be achieved must be explored. Current beef price means that every system of beef farming is losing money,” he said.

“The 30 month rule needs to be scrapped. ICSA has consistently maintained that this is merely a racket to keep farmers down and it can no longer be justified. This has been exposed now with the statements by Supermacs and by Lidl that 30 months is not an issue for their consumers. The 70 day rule is just a devise to undermine free trade at livestock marts and is an anti-competitive measure that should be investigated by the CCPC.”

“ICSA will also be insisting that the suckler herd needs a better bonus for U grade cattle. Factories have made a killing from the grid over many years but especially with the increase in dairy stock and some of this money must be returned in the form of better bonuses at the top end of the grid. We also want to see a plan to deliver stability and profitability to bull beef.”

“We need transparency over the food chain and who makes what. ICSA wants to see openness about what money is being made from the fifth quarter as well as an accurate assessment of how much the farmer gets from the retail sales of beef. ICSA was the first farm organisation to call for a regulator to have powers to scrutinise the margins. We now believe that this must also happen at EU level, and we want compulsory audits across Europe. This is not just an Irish problem. Across Europe, there are demands that farmers must get a fair price to reflect their costs of production.”

“ICSA is also demanding that a promotional fund is required to counteract market difficulties and bad press for beef. The beef sector has been the focus of a relentless campaign of negativity in relation to health and climate change, as well as orchestrated and well-funded efforts to push the vegan agenda. ICSA rejects these claims but submits that not enough is being done by beef processors, Government and the EU to counteract the hostile commentary.”

ENDS