The Government has been criticised for what has been called its “listless attitude” towards the Beef Market Taskforce.

John Coughlan, one of the candidates in the ongoing Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) presidential election, was speaking after a protest by the association at an Aldi distribution centre in Naas, Co. Kildare, today, Thursday, December 5, commenting that farmers “need more than a shrug of the shoulder from the Government”.

“Farmers do not need a stop-start talking shop – they need action,” according to the IFA’s current Munster regional chairperson.

Coughlan claimed that there is a “lack of urgency in making meaningful progress”, something he said was damaging given the price-gap between Irish and international beef prices.

“All the parties to the talks, including the meat industry, are saying they want a deal. If so, why are we not all in a room right now looking to agree to one?” Coughlan asked.

The only group who benefits from the delay, Coughlan argued, is “meat barons who are pocketing the additional margin which independent analysis shows is in the market”.

The IFA presidential candidate is calling for the appointment for a facilitator for the taskforce to change the “dynamic” of the group.

For us beef farmers, the taskforce is the equivalent of national pay talks.

Coughlan suggested “someone like” Kieran Mulvey, Peter Cassells or Bertie Ahern to be appointed to the role of facilitator.

“We need to get in the room, stay in the room, maintain the tempo, and get a deal done,” he argued.

Coughlan said that farmers are set to lose a further €20 million during the month of December.

We have 20 days to save €20 million. Every day that passes without progress, farm family livelihoods worsen.

Coughlan concluded his remarks by expressing his disappointment that retailers were absent from Tuesday’s taskforce meeting.

“Retailers not participating in the taskforce expose their hypocritical approach. On the one hand, they extensively promote the quality of the farmers produce on sale…but on the other they are not prepared to pay farmers a decent price for this same high-quality product,” he commented.