In a move designed to tackle severe problems in the beef sector, Mairead McGuinness MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament has initiated moves for the Parliament's Agriculture committee to examine the crisis "which has led to prolonged protests at meat plants and despair among farmers".
Her proposal for a “forensic look at the beef sector has been supported by the political groups who recognise the reality that the future of the beef sector and the suckler herd, is not just an issue in Ireland but in many other member states”.
“I welcome the statement from Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed that he will facilitate new talks between all parties to the beef dispute on Monday next,” she said.
“Every effort must be made by the stakeholders to reach an agreement. But the protests reflect a deep concern among beef farmers about their immediate and long-term future.”
She said while the crisis is most severe in Ireland, beef farmers across the EU have seen prices fall. “The perfect storm of weak demand, Brexit uncertainties and increased supply is taking its toll.
“That is why it is important that the issues impacting the sector are debated in the Agriculture Committee and that we try to bring much needed transparency to the beef supply chain from farm to fork and get some insight into who benefits most.
"It is abundantly clear that farmers remain price takers, with little power other than that of protest to try and get a price increase.” she concluded.
Teagasc has estimated that cattle farmers are losing €150/head.