ICMSA and ICSA will not attend 12th Beef Roundtable

Two of the country’s leading farm organisations have opted not to attend the much-publicised 12th Beef Roundtable this week.

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) and the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) have confirmed intentions not to attend the event expected to take place at Agriculture House in Dublin this Wednesday (October 3).

It is understood that the decision has been reached today (Monday, October 1) in light of plans by another farm organisation to stage protests outside Agriculture House.

The protests are being staged in response to a continuing downward spiral of beef prices and calls for further suckler sector supports.

Pat McCormack, the president of the ICMSA, stated that his association has never passed a farmer picket.

“Based on our current understanding, ICMSA is unlikely to attend any meeting in the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine offices on Wednesday next in the event of a farmer protest going ahead,” he said.

However, he was adamant that the situation had to move past this point.

“It’s crucial that no one interprets this action as a response to the problem of low beef prices, because it’s not.

The problems of the beef industry are inextricably linked to the problems inherent in the beef grid which was badly designed to the advantage of meat plants and has worked against farmers from the first day it was introduced – as we said it would.

“We have calculated that the losses to farmers since the grid was introduced probably amount in the region of €120 million and this will not be fixed unless all parties, and all organisations, face up to the intrinsic defects of the grid,” he said.

The Beef Roundtable was established in April 2014 in order to facilitate open discussion between industry and farming organisations on the strategic path for the beef sector over the coming years.

There have been 11 meetings of the roundtable to date; the most recent being on February 6.

“It will be four years next November since the Beef Forum agreed to a review and nothing has happened since then due to the failure of the parties to engage, nor have the other recommendations made then been acted upon,” he said.

The ICMSA leader is urging all farm organisations to declare support for a review of the beef grid. He also stated the association’s “disappointment” that the department has not appointed a live export representative to the Beef Forum.

‘Lack Of Solidarity’

The ICSA has decided not to attend the upcoming Beef Forum due to the lack of solidarity shown by meat processors in recent weeks.

Addressing the issue, ICSA president Patrick Kent said: “Cutting prices week after week is shameful.

It shows complete contempt for farmers and is particularly egregious when many are on their knees due to increased costs.

“There is no point in attending a roundtable discussion when factories are attending in bad faith,” he concluded.