Beef Plan Movement had its first meeting with Meat Industry Ireland (MII) last Thursday (April 4th).
Eamon Corley, Hugh Doyle and Dermot O’ Brien of Beef Plan had a frank two-hour discussion on the beef industry with MII representatives - Joe Ryan, Philip Carroll and Cormac Healy.
The delegation told MII that "beef farmers are now at a crossroads", where they are deciding to reduce numbers or close the farm gate.
“MII is of the opinion that it would be a rash decision for beef farmers to exit beef production.” A spokesperson for Beef Plan Group said.
Beef Plan suggested to MII that a new pricing system should be introduced where the producer, the processor and the retailer all come together.
“The current pricing system no longer works as we are consistently being paid a price that is well below the cost of production.”
“MII didn’t show much enthusiasm about this suggestion. They said the consumer was also part of the equation as was food service and manufacturing.”
Farmer representative on the factory floor
The issues surrounding farmer confidence of what took place on the factory floor as regards trimming, grading and weights were highlighted.
Beef Plan stated its intention to have a farmer representative on the factory floor.
“MII said that they would be against this as they were already over-regulated.”
On the subject of transparency as regards weekly prices paid to factories for beef, MII said they would not be releasing these figures as they could be used against them to undermine some of their contracts.
MII said they would not object to a review of the grid - this would be a matter for the stakeholders and would have to be science-based.
"MII stated they could not engage on the subject of prices contracts or the current base price as this was outside of their remit. These were matters that would have to be taken up with individual factories."
“To conclude, it was a frank discussion with a lower level of engagement by MII than Beef Plan would have liked with regards to a willingness to be inclusive of the beef farmer in the Irish Beef Industry.”
Beef Plan is of the view that for the beef industry to continue to be successful, a more inclusive relationship needs to be created with stakeholders including MII.
“When Beef Plan reaches its target of 40,000 members, this inclusive relationship should become a reality.” The spokesperson concluded.