Farmers are "extremely frustrated" over the "inability" of the Minister for Agriculture to get all stakeholders around the table for the inaugural meeting of the Beef Market Taskforce, according to Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD.
He stressed that almost three months have passed since the Irish Beef Sector deal was agreed by seven national farm organisations and Meat Industry Ireland on September 15th.
“This is extremely disappointing. The Minister’s remarks that convening the taskforce was ‘in the hands of the chairman’ was very disingenuous."
"He cannot delegate out responsibility for the unresolved issue," McConalogue stressed.
“With steer prices still on the floor at €3.45/kg, beef farmers feel abandoned with many reforms in the beef agreement awaiting progression and approval from the taskforce."
This, he added, includes the beef market index which will "strengthen transparency" around beef, cattle and offal prices.
“Factories have imposed weight limits recently; this is contrary to the four-month notice period that was to be observed under the September 15th deal. All processors must adhere to this."
“The failure by Minister Creed to establish the taskforce is a slap in the face for the farmers that protested and agreed to step down protests on the basis the government would establish the taskforce."
The TD said that this "failure" by Government to act and follow-through is the type of "inaction" that led farmers to the picket line in the first place.
“Beef farmers feel abandoned with many reforms agreed in September still in limbo with the taskforce yet to meet."
McConalogue is of the opinion that Minister Creed must "stand up for farmers" and get the taskforce operating and take "full responsibility" for this action. "The buck stops with him and him alone,” concluded Deputy McConalogue.