A private members motion will be tabled in the Dáil next week on establishing an independent regulator for the beef sector.
Independent TD Carol Nolan said she will bring the motion forward next Wednesday (May 26).
The Laois-Offaly TD explained that the motion will “make it clear that the time for regulatory window dressing is over”.
“Robust measures are now required to protect farmers from a lack of transparency in the price setting arrangements engaged in by meat processors and Meat Industry Ireland [MII]-affiliated factories.
“This motion, from myself and my colleagues in the Rural Independent Group, comes after wide consultation with beef farmers, especially small farmers and representative organisations like the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association [ICSA],” Nolan said.
Nolan’s Rural Independent Group of TDs include: Michael Collins (Cork South-West); Danny Healy-Rae (Kerry); Michael Healy-Rae (Kerry); Mattie McGrath (Tipperary); and Richard O’Donoghue (Limerick county).
“We are making a number of specific demands which include the need for government to accept that existing regulatory and competition protections have proven themselves to be manifestly inadequate,” she outlined.
“We are also of the firm view that beef producers are routinely penalised by processors through the targeted operation of stealth, and opaque price setting practices.”
Nolan acknowledged the commitment in the Programme for Government to establish a food ombudsman capable of implementing the Unfair Trading Practices [UTP] Directive.
However, she argued: “We sincerely believe that this office will not be able to give the kind of specific sectoral focus needed to identify and address the chronic challenges created by the beef industry.
“I and my colleagues will be calling on government to acknowledge the important and unique role that the suckler sector plays in the beef industry by committing…to developing an independent beef regulator.”
Nolan argued that this regulator would need powers to “compel and conduct audits of factories in order to maintain and protect farm livelihoods from…exploitation”.