Producer organisations in the beef sector are to be legally recognised for the first time in Ireland, the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, has announced.
The Minister confirmed the recognition at the third meeting of the Beef Roundtable this week.
Producer Organisations are groups of farmers in the same sector who join together to negotiate for improved inputs and outputs for their members.
“This has been one of the key outcomes of last November’s roundtable agreement and marks an historic breakthrough for Irish beef farmers who now for the first time will have a legal framework allowing for negotiation directly with factories on price as a group.
As we have seen from other sectors, Producer Organisations can greatly help to rebalance the supply chain by strengthening the hand of producers who will now have a structure for negotiating collectively.
“They also provide a vehicle for negotiating cheaper inputs as well as acting as knowledge transfer outlets for their members,” the Minister said.
Minister Coveney said that he will legislate for their recognition before the end of the year.
He also committed to funding a network of facilitators who will assist interested farmers in establishing these groups.
On the issue of transparency the Minister said that his Department had introduced significant upgrades to the Department’s Beef Pricewatch App.
This will now allow for price comparisons between factories across five grades of each animal as well as bringing together each week the number and weights of animals slaughtered in each grid category.
“Improving price transparency has been one of the key goals of the roundtable from the outset and the Beef Pricewatch App has transformed price transparency for sellers of cattle and since its launch earlier this year is averaging over 1,000 hits per week.
“It has become the price comparison tool of choice for farmers here and marks our beef sector as the most transparent in the EU in terms of price information available.
“We are constantly reviewing it and the upgrades announced today will make it even more user friendly and add new layers of information to further improve transparency,” he said.
Market Outlook for the Beef Sector
The roundtable also received presentations from Bord Bia on the market outlook for the sector and from Animal Health Ireland on its plans for initiatives in beef health.
Teagasc also updated on the publication of its production blueprints for farmers since the last meeting of the roundtable.
“The input of the State Agencies has been key to the functioning of the roundtable.
“I was pleased to note in Bord Bia’s presentation today that prices have continued to remain stable in the second half of this year and that key export markets for both beef and live exports are continuing to take Irish produce in big numbers.
The outlook for 2016 is challenging and will require vigilance on all our parts to ensure that it can continue to deliver for the sector.
“From Animal Health Ireland we received a very timely presentation on their plans for initiatives particularly in tackling IBR. Improving animal health remains a key goal for all of us given its impact on farm profitability,” he said.
The Minister said 2015 has been a better year for Irish beef, but there is no room for complacency and that there will be challenges ahead.