‘Minister stood by the factories on horsemeat, why not the farmers now?’

The lack of movement by the Minister for Agriculture on finding a resolution to the beef crisis was slammed by IFA Livestock Chairman Henry Burns in recent days.

At the latest IFA beef meeting in Tullamore Burns said: “If you think back to the horsemeat crisis 12 months ago. Which a lot of people think caused where we are today. The Minister for Agriculture spent a month on the tv and radio defending the factories and kept them in business. Maybe that was his job at the time.

“But he has failed on his job on the farmers side this year,” Burns said.

“We are vulnerable and we need the help of the minister for agriculture. I think we have told him that often enough. He says he understood.”

The nomad cattle topic was a key issue on the night with many farmers outlining how the absence of Northern buyers from mart rings had suppressed the trade.

Once again Burns laid a lot of the blame at the Ministers feet. “Minister Coveney is a man with a lot of energy. He goes a lot of places. He able to tell us where he was in China and America. He can tell us everywhere he has been.

“But when we ask him to fix a market 70 miles up the road he can’t do it. He has to do it./ he told us he would be back to us in a couple of weeks.”

Burns highlighted that the beef sector is a big industry for the country. “Every 100,000 suckler cows supports 5,000 jobs and €200 million for the country. The minister for agriculture stood by two years ago when it was obvious to us and everyone and let us lose 100,000 suckler cows. He didn’t stand in in time.

Now we forgive sins as farmers we don’t make all the right choices ourselves. But every day we see Ministers opening industries in cities. But in rural Ireland there is not one other thing to replace that suckler cow.”

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