Coveney urges further strategic focus on beef issues

The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has called for “further strategic focus on beef issues” after the latest session of the Beef Forum today.

The first meeting of the Beef Roundtable in 2015 focussed on the ongoing implementation of the outcomes agreed at the Roundtable meeting in November, the market outlook for 2015 and strategic issues concerning bull beef production in Ireland.

The Minister also updated on progress as regards the development of Producer Organisation’s in Ireland, a key proposal to emerge from the Roundtable process.

There was a general consensus at today’s meeting that progress was being made in delivering on the outcomes agreed in November, although further work was required in a number of areas and this was accompanied by a strong commitment from all participants to continue this work, supported by the Roundtable process.

Speaking after the meeting this evening, Minister Coveney said the environment has changed somewhat from the situation we found ourselves in last year.

“I was particularly pleased to note the improved market position for 2015 outlined by Bord Bia and the more positive outlook for the coming months.

“I said after our last meeting in November that it was now time to move on from the difficult relationship which had characterised the sector and start focussing on the opportunities that exist. Today was another important step in that process.”

In relation to bull beef in particular, the Roundtable tasked a stakeholder group, led by Teagasc, with preparing written guidelines for beef farmers which would act as a blueprint for those currently producing bull beef or those considering developing bull beef production systems, taking into account production efficiency and market dynamics.

Following presentations from Teagasc and Bord Bia, and on the basis of discussion in the forum, the Minister said “it was clear that bull beef is a specialised production system that is only suitable for particular holdings where farmers have the right type of animals, can meet tight specifications, and have definite supply arrangements with their processors.

“For these farmers, I want to ensure that they have clear, written guidelines governing all aspects of bull production and market demands so that they can make well informed production decisions based on the best advice available.”

According to the Department, all stakeholders agreed that new market opportunities will be vital in delivering improved returns along the supply chain.