The Minister Agriculture Simon Coveney has said he does not intend to prohibit the ownership of feed lots by processors.

When asked in the Dail this week by Deputy Brendan Griffin his views on the practice of large beef processors holding and feeding large numbers of cattle until slaughter in an effort to control the market and if his attention had been drawn to the fact that this is prohibited in other jurisdictions, such as the United States

Coveney outlined that meat processors make their own arrangements for the procurement of animals for slaughter. Minister Coveney said these are commercial decisions for individual processors and their supply base will include animals purchased from farmers on the open market, animals reared on a contract basis, and animals supplied from their own holdings.

The Minister said this has been the longstanding practice in Ireland and elsewhere. Minister Coveney added that it is also his understanding that this is also the practice in the US and that processors are not prohibited from rearing animals in that jurisdiction.

I do not intend to introduce measures to prevent this practice, he said

According to the Minister there are over 100,000 farms contributing to cattle output in Ireland and, last year, over 1.5 million head of cattle were sent for slaughter in processing facilities throughout the country.

The Minister further said with regard to any suspected manipulation of the market by beef processors, I would urge the Deputy to bring forward any information or evidence he has in this regard to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission which has been formed through the merger of the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority.