The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney has called for meat processors to be more proactive in relation to the implementation of the recommendations of the Dowling Report on the beef sector.

Referring to the current difficulties, Minister Coveney said that it was critically important to restore confidence and build trust between suppliers and processors: “€œIrish beef farmers are feeling the pressure at the moment. Prices have declined significantly since the highs of last year, not only in Ireland, but internationally. That is the market reality. However, in circumstances where there is downward pressure on prices, it is all the more important that the relationship between processors and farmers is built on transparency and trust.

“The Dowling Report recommended clearer communications with farmers in relation to prices and specification, and I would like to see action from processors on this. Retailers also have a critical role to play, and must be cognisant of the need to ensure that farmers receive a fair return for their efforts if the sector is to be sustainable. We need to see some action now that can help to restore confidence in the sector.”

He went on to say that the Dowling Report made recommendations in relation to the provision of clear, simple and transparent information to farmers on price and specification based on the grid system. “It also referred to the need to ensure that any adjustments to specification take adequate account of the normal production cycle, and in relation to the development of contract models to give farmers more security when it comes to supplying animals. Farmers need to have a simple, comprehensible framework for determining the price that will be paid for their animals. There has been an understandable period of reflection on the report’s contents at this stage, and I expect processors to take pro active steps to work withfarming organisations to deal with these issues.”

He also said that his Department was ‘well advanced’ in the development of a Beef Pricewatch Application and that he will shortly be launching a consultation on the development of a legislative framework for the establishment on producer groups in the beef sector.