I wish to express my concerns in relation to the Beef Market Taskforce recent update published by the Department of Agriculture on their website, writes Pat Maher, Co. Kilkenny.
In particular, I have concerns about the awaited Grant Thornton's report on in-spec requirements for finished cattle.
The big question here is, did Grant Thornton carry out an analysis of existing markets for Irish beef or the marketplace as a whole?
If it is the case, where this report is based on existing markets, then I would worry that it will not help resolve the problems for beef producers.
The reason for my concerns are why do we supply these markets? And who picked these markets as target markets? Certainly, producers didn't as they have no say!
Government strategies for the agri-food sector, namely 'pathways For Growth' and 'Food Harvest 2020'’, implemented by bodies such as Bord Bia encourages processors to 'co-operate' rather than compete.
This strategy also promotes 'collaboration' between processors and retailers, so when the main select dominant processors both here and in the UK are instructed by government strategies to 'collaborate' then would this explain why so much of our beef exports end up in the UK?
Is this why the in-spec requirements are what they are? To get a true picture of what in-spec requirements should be, perhaps, we should be looking at all markets globally to see what other markets require, also a consumer study should be carried out in areas of our existing markets to see what consumers want rather than what retailers want.
‘Shouldn’t be limited to a handful of markets’
Hopefully, this report will have done a thorough analysis in all areas of all markets and give producers the answers that they deserve.
Maybe, it will show producers that options are out there, and they shouldn't be limited to a handful of markets.
These in-spec requirements shouldn't be the criteria for all cattle presented for slaughter if all markets don't require these conditions. Until we get these questions answered, farmers have no control, no say, and no choice.