Beef Market Taskforce ‘needs to be reconvened as matter of urgency’

The Beef Market Taskforce needs to be reconvened as a matter of urgency, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

The Roscommon-Galway TD called on the chair of the taskforce, Michael Dowling, and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed to “show their mettle” and resolve the issues which are preventing the taskforce from meeting.

‘Show their mettle’

Speaking on the matter, Fitzmaurice said: “By not meeting, we are playing right into the hands of the beef cartels.

The recently launched beef price index, which farmers had been calling for, has clearly shown the discrepancies between prices on offer in Ireland and other European countries. We are lagging behind, particularly when compared to the UK.

The TD noted that this comes at a time of year when beef prices would traditionally rise coming into the Christmas season, adding that the Chinese market is beginning to bear fruit.

“With the Chinese market beginning to take off, it is imperative now that the beef price on offer here goes up. Or are we going to have another situation where a market opens but the benefits do not reach the farmer?”

Deputy Fitzmaurice claimed that during the beef protests, Minister Creed “communicated with individual picket lines to say that all injunctions would be lifted if farmers left the gates”.

“The farmers honoured their side of the bargain, but unfortunately it appears as if not all factories adhered to the pledge made by the minister. Good will has to be shown on all sides,” he stressed.

It is time for Dowling and Minister Creed to flex their muscles and ensure that any issues which are preventing the taskforce from meeting are resolved as soon as possible.

“Given the extent with which Irish beef is being promoted globally to attract new markets, it is imperative that all stakeholders are brought back to the table – and for that to happen, all injunctions need to be lifted,” he said.

Teagasc Annual Report

Continuing, Fitzmaurice reacted to the findings from a Teagasc report which stated that the average family farm income (FFI) in Ireland increased by an estimated 7% in 2019.

“It is very difficult to see where the 7% income increase for this year is regarding beef farming.

“If you brought cattle to the mart or the factory in the past 12 months, you would see very clearly that beef farmers have not enjoyed an increase.

I also believe that a second tranche of the Beef Emergency Aid Measure (BEAM) needs to be put in place, continuing on from the end date of the initial scheme – as farmers have been forced to endure a prolonged period of poor prices.

“Frustration is growing among farmers with the lack of movement.

“We are still waiting for the Beef Market Taskforce to meet. We see that farmers have taken to the streets of Dublin today to protest and show their dissatisfaction with what is going on in the agricultural sector at the moment,” he concluded.