That’s Farming received the following from Fergal Brislane via Twitter earlier this morning (Tuesday, August 6th):
“It’s important to start this by saying I get that something needs to be done. Beef farmers are being hammered for some time now and I support making a stand.
That being said, where does the fault lie? All advice we seem to get these days from Teagasc, from the farming media and anyone else tells the beef farmer to switch to dairy. I recently completed my Green Cert in Gurteen.
All we saw there either was a dairy enterprise being ramped up at the expense of beef, tillage and other business. Even the solution to climate change, we are told lies in scaling back the suckler herd. The beef industry is being undermined by everyone and anyone and at the same time, we are actively eroding the herd ourselves by making the switch to dairy, creating a monoculture that could have devastating results for Irish farming should any downturn hit that industry.
Also, given that our image abroad in terms of marketing beef is that of happy continental cattle grazing outdoors, I wonder how long it can be sustained when we flood the market with sub-standard dairy beef. What of the retailers? While I have no sympathy for the processor and protesting at their gate is all well and good.
My wife and I shopped on Sunday as we do each week. Did we see anyone making a point about the farmer’s share of the retail price at Tesco, Dunnes, Aldi or anywhere else? No – the signs I have seen at the factory showing the breakdown of profit from beef are striking but if I’m not mistaken, it is the retailer getting the lion’s share and are they not more to blame than anyone for our woes?
How many people passed through their doors this week, bought beef and are blissfully unaware of this protest or indeed the issues is it protesting about? Any stand taken at the factory gate should be matched by one at the supermarket door.
Out of desperation my dad and I took animals to the factory last night. The cattle are going over age today and will now lose 12c/kg from already poor prices; we like many others, turned away to respect the protest. The same issue will arise with thousands of cattle around the country in the coming weeks given so many of our are February-born. Will we ever recoup a loss like that?
Will the industry ever allow you to the table given that we have nowhere else to go and will all be back with our cattle when this is over and have no choice but to take what we get? If we do get concessions, who will stop the retailer from putting a few more cents on their price and putting a few more cents on their price and nullifying any benefit?
Once more, I support making a stand, but our family and many others will suffer losses with finished stock going over age and over fat over this period; this is the only time of the year we sell our product.
As a store-to-beef enterprise, losing 12c/kg is a disaster. This year for us, will be a write-off in terms of our beef enterprise if this last a few more weeks.
I respect my neighbours and colleagues who stood at the gate last night and I dearly hope that if we are stopping farmers like myself who will suffer from this, that, all those involved can give the assurance that they too will hold out for something better as a result of this movement.
It will only take one man in that line to get his own cattle sold during this period while stopping other genuinely suffering farmers from doing the same to make this whole thing collapse.
Can the movement give an assurance that this has not or will not happen? Will it assure us that the retailer will be challenged for their part?
I really hope this movement gets somewhere for the sake of a way of farming, we all love but that finds itself on its knees.
Bear in mind though that it’s ordinary farmers who suffer in the short-term.”