Beef farmers being held to ransom by processors – Calleary

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Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Dara Calleary is warning that beef farmers are facing another price crash this winter as processors introduce new penalties on Irish stock.  It’s just over a year since farmers were hit with massive price cuts as factories began changing specifications and refusing to slaughter cattle.

Deputy Calleary commented, “Beef farmers are only beginning to get back on their feet having survived the beef crisis.  Now they’re being hit with an unfair raft of cuts by British processors who are discriminating against Irish producers.  These big factories have reverted to the practices which led to the crisis two years ago and are putting farmers in an impossible situation.  What’s worse is that the Government appears to be on the side of the processors and is failing to stand up for farmers.

“Only last week, we saw new reports that large processing companies in Britain are cutting prices by £1/kg on all non-UK stock.  This puts Irish farmers at a major disadvantage as the majority of Irish cattle are exported to England for finishing.  These processors are also imposing new weight penalties, which will see the price paid to the farmer dramatically reduced.

“These moves are incredibly unfair and will have serious repercussions for the beef industry in Ireland.  Minister Simon Coveney’s solution to the problem was the establishment of the Beef Forum, which is due to meet again later this month.  However, it would appear that this forum is nothing more than a talking shop as it is now clear that the processors are still running the show.  Farmers are still at the mercy of the factories and the large retailers and the Minister has failed to put any protections in place to safeguard farmers from plummeting prices.

“Fianna Fáil has continually called for a Groceries Code Adjudicator to ensure quality produce and fair prices.  The Adjudicator would ensure that a small group of processors do not unfairly dominate the market while protecting the beef industry.  I am urging the Minister to seriously consider this proposal in light of these latest price cuts.  The beef sector is an integral part of the Irish agri-food industry and must be protected.  The Government’s hands-off approach is not working and is threatening the viability of one of our most important sectors”.