ABP has confirmed to Agriland that it is in the process of writing to farmer suppliers this week to offer them the option to ‘opt in’ to the levy collection on behalf of farm organisations.

Farmers who wish to continue paying the European Involvement Fund (EIF) levy must return the form to ABP stating so. However, farmers will be automatically opting out of paying the levy if they do not return the form.

In response to the ABP move, the IFA has instructed ABP to suspend the collection of the levy on behalf of IFA, with immediate effect.

IFA President Joe Healy has said that farmers will not be dictated to by Larry Goodman on how IFA does its business.

If ABP agrees to the IFA request to suspend collecting the levy completely it means that farmers, who would like to continue paying the levy, will not be able to do so through ABP plants.

The IFA President Joe Healy met the Managing Director of ABP Ireland, Finbarr McDonnell, and the Group Chief Executive, Frank Stephenson this week and was informed of ABP’s decision on the levy collection.

According to IFA, it was also told at the meeting that ABP is concerned about the IFA stance on the proposed ABP takeover of Slaney.

IFA has submitted a report carried out by a leading competition economist to DG Competition in Brussels which concludes that the ABP proposed deal with Slaney ‘is likely to weaken competition even further’ in the purchase of cattle in a market already characterised by weak competition.

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ICMSA reaction to ABP decision

Commenting on the ABP decision, the ICMSA President, John Comer, said that his association has noted the decision of ABP and that ICMSA would continue its huge work in relation to the beef sector.

“Well-funded farm organisations are important and farmers should not be under any illusion about the fact that there are corporations and multinationals out there who would be very happy to see farmer representative groups weakened through lack of funding.”

This, he said, was for the very simple reason that it’s much easier to bully individuals than it is to bully strong organisations who have the know-how and resources to fight for their members’ interests.

“More and more beef is coming from the dairy herd – that’s simply a statement of fact – and we already have a situation where the factories operate a beef grid that actively discriminates against those cattle.

“ICMSA intends to continue the fight for a better deal for all beef farmers and we’re confident that we’ll have farmer support in that campaign,” he said.