Beef Plan seeks ministerial response to 7 key points

The Beef Plan Movement is seeking a written response from the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, in relation to seven key points relating to the beef sector and farmer representation.

Submitted this week by the farm organisation, a statement detailing the points – seen by AgriLand – was sent by Beef Plan Movement co-chairman Hugh Doyle.

The issues raised relate to a variety of topics from transparency and anti-competitive practices to the EU-Mercosur Agreement.

The minister is called on to respond to points on:
  1. The recognition of the Beef Plan Movement as a legitimate farm representative body;
  2. The transparency of red meat processors;
  3. Live export supports;
  4. The prevalence and designation of feedlots;
  5. Anti-competitive practices;
  6. A Meat Market Observatory; and
  7. The Mercosur deal.

On the first point, the minister is called on to confirm the specific criteria that must be met by a farmer representation body to be recognised by the Department of Agriculture.

Highlighting the group’s exclusion from both the TB Forum and consultations over the distribution of the €100 million beef fund, the movement claims that there has been no engagement with the minister since an initial introductory meeting.

Regarding processor transparency, it was noted that, according to Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures, the May 2019 monthly change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for beef and veal was +4.2%, with a +0.4% 12-month increase reported.

The minister is asked in the statement whether he is prepared to introduce legislation that will mean processors will “no longer be permitted to operate as private unlimited companies and that profits made by these companies are made known”.

Regarding live export supports, the movement is requesting “timelines by which Minister Creed will have established a dedicated section that exclusively supports and specialises in the area of live exports within his department”.

Feedlots also come under scrutiny; the Beef Plan Movement states that it believes that cattle from feedlots are “being used to manipulate the beef market to the processors’ advantage”.

The association is requesting for legislation to ensure that it is prohibited for a processor to control or influence the supply of cattle “other than through a bona fide arm’s-length contractual relationship”.

The movement labelled: the 30-month age limit for heifers and steers; the 16 and 24-month age limit for young bulls; the four-movement rule; and 70-day continuous residency prior to slaughter collectively as anti-competitive practices, calling for legislation to prohibit them.

It is also seeking timelines as to when an Irish Meat Market Observatory would be established, with pricing data for meat products similar to the EU Milk Market Observatory to aid in providing transparency.

Finally, the movement wishes to know how much each sector will benefit from the claimed €4 billion saved through the Mercosur deal in tariff reductions.

The group also calls for clarity as to when it will be known how Ireland intends to vote on the controversial agreement negotiated by the EU.