Beef Plan survey: What and where are the issues?

The Beef Plan Movement recently carried out a national 10-question survey on its WhatsApp pages.

Members of the movement said the purpose of the survey was to gauge farmer opinions on some of the major issues within the beef sector.

The information that emerged suggests farmers have lost faith in the grid system; they also feel a cartel is operating within the sector and the lack of competition in the industry is having a negative impact across the board.

The movement’s vice-president Hugh Doyle told AgriLand that the survey’s revelations have caused huge concern amoung members and even went as far as suggesting that the powers that be have been aware of the difficulties for a long time and chose “to do nothing about it”.

Doyle also confirmed that over 2,400 farmers responded to the survey.

Meanwhile, 95% of farmers said they did not believe the beef grid was returning a fair price to them.

Doyle said the movement’s efforts in respect of the survey painted “a very clear picture” of where the issues within the sector are.

“We asked farmers if they felt there was a cartel operating and if they felt there was price fixing at play,” he said.

“The results indicated that they do feel there is a cartel in the beef industry.”

Doyle went on to say that what was evident from the survey was that the vast majority of farmers wanted the beef grid reformed because “they feel it is no longer fit for purpose”.

He then went on to point out that there were “massive issues” with the lack of competition within the industry. He said that according to the movement’s calculations on the survey’s results over 86% of farmers want the 30-month age limit on steers and heifers extended upwards.

“Urgent action is required to save our beef industry,” he added.

Doyle continued: “Over 91% of farmers believe that all cattle should qualify for the Quality Assurance (QA) bonus once the farm is quality assured.”

The beef movement’s vice-president also pointed out that it was very troubling to determine that almost 53% of suckler farmers intended cutting their numbers over the next two years.

He pointed out that 28% are aiming to cut numbers by more than 20%.

Doyle then went on to say that nobody realised there was such a high percentage of farmers focused on cutting numbers by 20% or more. He said this revelation has caused a lot of concern among the movement’s members.

“97% of farmers say there is a cartel in operation within the sector – the farmers on the ground have been aware of this for years – yet nobody has done anything to address this,” added Doyle.

Doyle then pointed to the sector and where it is at now.

“This survey highlights that something has gone very wrong in the beef sector; this must be addressed because something needs to be done to fix the situation,” he concluded.