It has been estimated that up to 600 farmers attended the Mayo Beef Plan Group Information Meeting at the McWilliam Park Hotel last night (Wednesday, November 15th).
The group that wishes to retain control of beef from birth to slaughter and beyond; return as a minimum, the cost of production plus a margin and reclaim respect within the beef industry is seeking the support of approximately 40,000 farmers.
At the meeting, Eamon Corley - Group Chairperson confirmed that the plan has been backed by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Association; Irish Charolais Cattle Society; Irish Limousin Cattle Society; Irish Blonde Society; Irish Parthenaise Cattle Society and Irish Simmental Cattle Society.
"We think there is enough money in the retail price to give us a price of production plus a margin. If there is not, then we cannot be expected to work for nothing."
"This country is famous for suckler beef production, it is the envy of the world and we are not getting a premium price for that product."
Speaking from the floor at the meeting, Kevin Maguire - President of the Irish Cattle Society said that some of the best genetics are leaving the country, as he made reference to the society’s Elite Heifer sale held at Tullamore Mart last Saturday.
"There were top quality Charolais heifers exported to England and Northern Ireland out of this country with no star ratings for small enough money. Some of them made €4,000, but at five-stars, they would make €20,000."
"We travelled the world as pedigree breeders looking for top genetics. We built our beef industry up to where it is today. We have the stand together."
“A critical state”
William Fay - an international exporter also spoke at the public meeting at the Claremorris-based venue.
"We are in a critical state; there is nobody there to help us and unless we stick together like we are here tonight and go against these sanctions and regulations, we are gone."
"We are here tonight to try and ease the regulations, to try to get a bit of morale back in business, that we are earning a few pounds and can buy whatever we need to buy and throw a few pounds aside but for the last ten years, we cannot physically do that.
Beef Plan 2018-2025
Beef Plan 2018-2025 contains a total of 86 proposals across 8 different phases - sustainable price; factories; producer groups; animal health; purchasing groups (phase one and phase two); farm safety; government schemes; farm unions and abattoir.
Phase one of the plan involves handing in a list of demands to factories and if the group is not satisifed with the response within a specific period, it would "then be ready to act."
Options to control and disrupt cattle supply include not sending cattle to any factory on a certain day at a few hours' notice; not sending cattle to a particular factory at short notice and not to send cattle below a set price to the factory.
Other demands include paying farmers a fair price for the fifth quarter; maximum weights not dropping below 440kg for under-16-month bulls and steers and 450kgs for bulls under 24-months.
Other elements outlined in the plan relate to carcass trim; once-calved heifer and quality assurance - movements and paying a QA bonus to all cattle produced from QA herds.