IFA President Joe Healy and members of the farm organisation’s national council handed in letters of protest to Meat Industry Ireland and the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed yesterday, over the “failure of meat factories to increase beef prices and breaches of the beef sector agreement”.
“Talking to factory agents over the weekend, it’s clear that the factories intend there to be little or no price increases again this week; this is unacceptable,” he said.
€162/head price gap
Mr. Healy said that the new Beef Price tracker indices published last week by Bord Bia show that Irish beef farmers are due a price increase, with Irish beef prices now 17c behind the Bord Bia Prime Export Benchmark price.
"Beef prices in our main export market in the UK have turned the corner and are rising.”
“In addition, sterling has strengthened considerably in recent weeks. UK cattle prices are at the equivalent of €4.07/kg incl. vat., which is 45c/kg or €162 per head more than Irish prices, which are stuck at €3.62/kg incl. vat.”
An agreement, Healy added, was reached between farmers, MII and Minister Creed on September 15th last. “One of the objectives of the agreement was to improve trust between factories and farmers.”
“Since then, the factories have introduced severe weight penalties, kept legal threats in place and now the Irish beef price is lagging behind other countries.”
Healy believes that relations between factories and farmers have “worsened” since September 15th. “The Minister has sided with the factories by accepting their petty explanation for keeping legal threats in place.” the farm leader stressed.
“The agreement brokered in September commits all parties to bring disputes to the Beef Taskforce before they are escalated.”
“As the Beef Taskforce has not been able to meet, due to the failure to lift all legal threats against farmers, we are putting Meat Industry Ireland and the Minister on notice that farmers have had enough of the carry on by the meat factories.”
“We need a significant price increase now and we need the Minister Creed and the Government, who provide support the meat industry in multiple ways, to tell the factories to cop themselves on,” he said.
Joe Healy was also very critical of the Minister for Agriculture in respect of the Brexit BEAM scheme, which was put in place by Brussels and the Government to help compensate farmers for beef price losses.
“Unnecessary restrictions put in place by the Minister have resulted in over €20m of this money not being applied for. This money must get to farmers and we need a scheme to cover losses post-May 12th,” he said.
“Despite being announced as far back as May this year, the Minister has not paid out any of the BEAM scheme funds to farmers yet. The Minister must pay out these funds immediately as beef farm incomes are on the floor,” he concluded.