MEP Luke Ming Flanagan invited a North-East Galway Beef Producer Group delegation to the European Parliament recently to attend a meeting about the future of the European beef sector.
The European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee held the discussion following a request from Mairead McGuinness, MEP and First Vice-President of the European Parliament.
“The beef sector is under enormous pressure, not least in Ireland where the frustration of farmers resulted in protests outside meat plants.” McGuinness outlined.
“And while the protests have subsided, the frustrations have not,” she added.
Ronan Kelly, a member of North-East Galway Beef Producer Group, who was present at the meeting, said: “After hearing what questions were asked at the meeting and the responses that were exchanged, I cannot see any future for beef farming in the EU.”
“Some MEPs from many countries said that many farmers are losing money on cattle and there will be no beef farmers in the EU.”
“Other MEPs questioned if there will be any beef farmers left in Europe, as they highlighted the need to have an off-farm income to keep cattle,” Kelly added.
North-East Galway Beef Producer Group was established over two decades ago and now comprises of approximately 140 members. “Up until three years ago, we had in the region of 30 to 40 members; our membership base continues to grow.”
“We have ten meetings every year and they are held on the second Monday of each month. Guest speakers attend to inform members about farming practices and goods and services available through businesses.”
“We get useful information for them. Being small farmers, we stand together and learn all we can about the new CAP along with all future schemes and payments. We also get better deals with suppliers.”
“We have our own quality beef scheme competition - it is great for our members to enter. There is an element of enjoyment associated with winning a prize for the best cattle sold in marts and slaughtered in factories.”
The group has various competition categories – between those sold in marts and slaughtered in beef processing plants, with first, second and third prizes awarded.
Categories for those who sell cattle in marts include; best autumn-born weanling bull, best autumn-born weanling heifer, best spring-born weanling heifer, best spring-born weanling bull, best store heifer, best cull cow and best store bullock.
Prizes, which can be availed by those who slaughter cattle, include; best cull cow, best heifer, best bullock and best cow-heifer.