24 SEPTEMBER 2020
ICSA president Edmond Phelan said the Beef Taskforce needs to be more focused on delivering for farmers. Speaking following yesterday’s meeting, Mr Phelan said that ICSA would not support the PGI grass fed application in its current format. “While we agree in principle that PGI status is a tool to help improve farmer returns from the market place, we have serious misgivings about the proposal to cover almost all dairy derived steers and heifers because it is very hard to get a premium for everything. As purpose of a speciality designation is to achieve a premium price for a special and unique product, ICSA believes the application – in its current one size fits all format – is too diluted and undermines the potential to get a premium price for specialist suckler beef production.”
“Bord Bia made the comparison with Michelin Star restaurants but missed the obvious point that only a few very elite restaurants can get that accolade. ICSA wants to see a coherent plan to develop suckler beef as a premium product. ICSA also outlined that we are not happy with the proposed governance structures for this PGI. A PGI must be majority farmer controlled. We are deeply unhappy with the proposal to have a monitoring group with only two farmer representatives. Instead we want to see a controlling board which would have majority farmer representation.”
ICSA is also insisting on a guarantee for funding for developing a suckler brand and assisting start up farmer producers who wish to sell beef direct to market. “It is unacceptable that developing a suckler brand is contingent on getting a €3 million EU grant. A relatively miniscule amount like this should be immediately available from state resources but it should be backed up with additional funds from meat processors who have a lot to gain.”
Mr Phelan also expressed frustration that the Grant Thornton report on price composition as well as the final drafts on competition law and the relevance of in-spec conditions to market requirements had taken so long.
“We have also asked for a dedicated examination of the Brexit risks particularly because we think it is unacceptable for farmers to be expected to gamble a fortune on winter finishing in light of Brexit uncertainty. We are facing the potential of winter finishers being wiped out if they don’t have a guaranteed price for the spring. The Beef Taskforce needs to grasp this issue sooner rather than later and ICSA wants to see all the main beef processor chiefs at the next Beef Taskforce meeting.”