The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has called for the Beef Forum to be reconvened “as a matter of urgency” to “deliver real change”.

Edmond Phelan, the association’s recently elected president, insisted that representatives from the retail sector should be included in any future forum “if progress is to be made”.

“It’s time for retailers to step up to the plate and participate as stakeholders,” Phelan urged.

Along with primary producers and processors, [retailers] are an integral part of the beef supply chain and there must be more openness and partnership if the industry is to survive.

“The Beef Forum must reconvene, and it must work better. Last October, ICSA, along with other farming organisations, did not attend the forum. At that time, beef farmers had been dealing with processors savagely cutting prices week after week,” he highlighted.

Continuing, Phelan said: “These cuts continued and have now resulted in a €100 million EU fund of exceptional aid. However, the time is now right to get back around the table and work collaboratively to get beef back from the brink.”

According to Phelan – who was elected as ICSA president on June 27 – the primary producer has been shouldering the majority of the risk in the sector, something he said needed to change.

Beef farmers can no longer be left to carry the can alone. Models of production up to now have all been based on one stakeholder, the primary producer, taking all the risk.

“This model has failed and it’s time to establish a new one before it’s too late for all concerned,” he concluded.


Last week, Phelan and Eddie Punch, the ICSA’s general secretary, travelled to Brussels for a civil dialogue with Sandra Gallina, the EU’s chief negotiator for the EU-Mercosur trade agreement.

Summing up what they had learned at the meeting, Punch said: “There are some clauses in the agreement that might restrict Brazil but everything depends on EU determination to enforce and Brazilian commitment to play by the rules.

“Ultimately, the ICSA has seen nothing to change our view that this deal is an absolute disgrace and that the EU has lost its moral authority to be a climate change leader,” argued Punch.