McDonagh to beef farmers: ‘Protest gets you so far. You need a plan; an end goal’

Pat McDonagh, the managing director and owner of Supermac’s Ireland, has offered advice to beef farmers that are involved, or are interesting in getting involved, in the recently formed Irish Beef Producers organisation.

Speaking at an information session about the producer organisation (PO) at the Loughrea Hotel in Co. Galway last night, Monday, October 21, the successful businessman also outlined his significant concern over the future of the beef industry.

His remarks follow in the wake of weeks of national protests outside factory gates last summer, countless legal wranglings between protesting farmers and meat processor chiefs, the drawing up of the Irish Beef Sector Agreement, and the establishment of the multi-stakeholder Beef Market Taskforce – which has yet to officially hold its first sitting.

Speaking to AgriLand at the meeting, McDonagh frankly stated that “farming is in crisis”.

However, he also gave a stern warning that, in his view, “the only way” beef farmers can weather the current income storm is by remaining strong “as a unit”.

He presented the crowd – of about 150 farmers – with a five-point action plan for the Irish Beef Producers organisation, including actions for: policy; producer margin; marketing; credit; and control.

“When you hear farmers tell you that they are getting the same price for cattle as they were 20 years ago then that is not sustainable.

“Anything I can do individually, or we can do as a group, to help out that situation, that is why I’m here.

There are many pieces of advice you can give. But first of all, there has to be unity of purpose, unity of direction and unity when you take on a challenge like this.

“When your back is to the wall that is always when you produce the best results, so they [beef farmers] have to unify.

“The processors are in control at the moment.

“The Government needs to stand in and help out the individual farmers. As we can see all over the country – there are no young people, or very few young people, getting into farming – and why would they if the price is the same as it was 20 years ago?” he said.

To hear Pat McDonagh’s full interview with AgriLand, check out the below video:

McDonagh was joined on the night by Beef Plan Movement’s Eoin Donnolly – who is one of the directors of the Irish Beef Producers – which is listed as Glasson Beef Producers.

The purpose of the meeting was to inform beef farmers in the region of the new PO, to energise attendees about the potential of the PO, and ultimately to encourage them to get involved as it has been established to improve farmer footing when it comes to negotiating price with meat plants.

Stay tuned to AgriLand for further inner workings on this meeting.