It was a very empty room at Dáil Éireann on Wednesday last (March 27th) when Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice addressed the issues facing Ireland’s beef sector during Private Members’ Business.
Speaking about the feedlot “cartel” as the Minister called it, he warned that “17% of all cattle were wheeled out to make sure that the farmer that was bringing cattle to the factory were held at bay”."10,000 more cattle were killed last year for the same weights and unless we put manners on the factory feedlot system, we are going nowhere".
"Once we go over 30,000 kill a week, after that, a farmer's trousers is basically pulled down because the factories will use you," he added.
The Minister also slated the 70-day rule, where an animal must have spent the last 70 days (unbroken) in the Quality Assured chain, stating that there “shouldn’t be a problem... if you come from a Bord Bia-approved farm and go to another one, you shouldn't have to do this 70-day situation."
"Put a foot under family farms"
The Beef Data and Genomics Programme means that “we are now breeding cattle that aren’t the same frame and we are losing some live exports", according to the Independent TD.
“Board Bia need to get involved with the live exporters, there’s a huge opportunity there,” he added.
Minister Fitzmaurice concluded that “We have to put a foot under the family farms…. if the family farm isn’t protected, then it would be goodbye to 300,000 jobs that are around this country”.