“The mismatch between the price that farmers are getting and the retail price of beef needs to be investigated” – that’s according Senator Rose Conway-Walsh – Sinn Féin.
She said that the idea of a cartel operating among processors simply cannot be ruled out without data around beef processing prices being released.
“The beef sector lacks competitiveness and transparency - this was the clear message from farming industry experts in the Agricultural Committee…but is there a beef cartel?” She said.
“A meticulous investigation must finally answer that question.” The Senator said at a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Food and Agriculture.
She stressed that many small farmers, especially in Mayo, are not getting a fair or stable price for beef, adding that many of them cannot switch to dairy farming, where milk prices are fixed by the EU.
“The fact that all processors seem to be offering the same price only breeds suspicion that a cartel culture exists among the major processors.”
“The data is held by the Department of Agriculture; it should be released so that the Consumer Protection Commission can conduct a proper investigation.”
She highlighted the four-movement rule is also affecting prices and believes that this “needs to be scrapped.”
“We have a cartel”
Brendan Joyce – INHFA National Vice-President responded to the Senator saying: “Ask any farmer at the side of a mart ring, what his/her opinion is and they will tell you. I think the answer will be yes in 100% of cases.”
“They are three processors playing the game and it is as simple as that; we are consistently running behind in terms of the price that is being obtained out of the marketplace.”
He believes that the facts are there and “prices and players” must be analysed.
“We have a cartel - I have no problem in putting that position forward.” He added.