Taskforce: Factories told to ‘take boot off finishers’

The third meeting of the Beef Market Taskforce took place today, Thursday, June 25, via video conferencing – the first meeting of the forum since January.

Speaking at the meeting this evening, Tim Cullinan, the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), told the representatives from Meat Industry Ireland (MII): “Take your boot off the beef finisher, take the handbrake off the beef price and let prices rise in line with rising market returns.”

During the meeting Cullinan highlighted that cattle prices in the UK have increased by the equivalent of 40c/kg since April 25, while Irish prices have risen by 22c/kg.

The beef market in the UK, where we export most of our beef, is rising rapidly week on week while our prices are struggling to move on, as the factories keep the handbrake on the trade.

In light off this, the IFA president called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed to “immediately” open applications and make payments under the recently-announced €50 million support scheme for beef finishers.

Grant Thornton reports

The taskforce was also provided with an update from consultancy firm Grant Thornton, which was retained by the taskforce to compile a number of reports, including one on the price composition of a beef animal.

According to an update on this report issued by Grant Thornton a number of weeks ago, price data was proving difficult to gather, apparently due to Covid-19.

“The minister needs to be strong and bluntly tell the beef factories and the retailers they must co-operate fully and provide all the required price and margin information for this important investigation,” Cullinan insisted.

Bord Bia PGI proposal and grass-fed standard

Also up for discussion today were proposals from Bord Bia on a grass-fed standard for beef, and on seeking protected geographical indication (PGI) status from the EU for that beef.

The IFA has taken issue with this on a number of occasions in recent weeks, and Cullinan reiterated the association’s concerns today, saying there was a lack for “proper engagement” with farmers.

“Farmers want to know how will the market benefits from grass-fed and PGI be passed back to them and if there will be a price premium… Farmers want to know the details around the ownership of the grass-fed and PGI initiatives. Who will own and who control the brands?” the IFA president asked.