Factories under pressure over beef prices at first Taskforce meeting

Beef processors came under pressure from farm organisations to raise cattle prices at the first meeting of the Beef Taskforce today.

The Taskforce, which was established by Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed in response to nationwide beef protests in September and October, is set to provide a forum for the resolution of disputes in the sector.

However, its had been delayed after farm organisations refused to attend due to injunctions being in place against a number of farmers who protested at C&D Foods in Longford.

These injunctions were lifted last week in the wake of a tractor protest which shutdown Dublin city centre traffic on Tuesday and Wednesday last week.

And, at its first meeting today, IFA President Joe Healy told the meeting that an immediate and significant cattle price increase is the priority issue.

“IFA put a cattle price increase on the table at the very start of the meeting.

“The meat factories representative accepted the facts verified by the Bord Bia beef price index, that market prices have increased and cattle prices should increase in the short term.

“IFA demanded an immediate and significant price increase, and highlighted the anger of farmers that factories had held back on justified price increases over recent weeks,” he said.

He also said the Taskforce accepted that there is a significant gap between Irish prices and those in our export markets.

President of ICMSA, Pat McCormack said that ICMSA had clearly stated at today‘s meeting that all market indicators show a marked upswing that must immediately translate into a significant improvement into the prices paid to farmers.  

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Pat McCormack said that confidence in the beef sector is at an all-time low and many beef farmers are seriously considering alternative land use options.  

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He said that confidence needs to be restored and that had to entail meats plants responding positively to an improved market that anyone could see.

“We have seen the gap between Irish and UK beef prices grow by about 20c/kg since July, a gap that is costing Irish farmers very significantly and again highlights the massive frustration of farmers who see markets improving but their price static.  

“This situation cannot continue and we need an immediate positive response from MII members. I can‘t understand why they cannot see that this is in their own interests”, he said.  

“This is the very first day and this is the very first test: we will know whether we‘ve a real forum for progress here or just another ‘talking shop‘ and for the sake of the Irish beef industry, it had better be the former”, said Mr McCormack.

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MII said clearly the current cattle price level was a major issue at the meeting, with strong calls from all the farm organisations that prices would improve immediately. MII undertook to relay that message to members. MII also indicated at the meeting that while there are some more positive developments in markets, in the UK, EU or internationally, it is taking time for this to feed through on Irish sales values.

“However there are green shoots in the market and these should hopefully feed through in terms of positive price developments soon,” it said in a statement.

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