Discussions on ‘how best to use the mart for finishing stock’

Discussions focused on making marts more enticing for finished cattle are taking place between the Irish Co-Operative Organisation Society (ICOS) and the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

The efforts come in the aftermath of concerns raised in recent months about factory feedlots and the perceived control they are having on beef prices in this country.

Ray Doyle of ICOS said that discussions had taken place between both parties and opportunities arose to explore all the options around “how best to use the mart system for finishing stock”.

We are sitting down and trying to come up with innovative solutions to bring more livestock to the marts.

Doyle continued: “It is a work in progress but we are focused on a positive outcome and that is what we will work towards.

“We need to determine how we can facilitate finished cattle in a way that is compatible with the mart system and not dominated by the factories.”

‘Downward price pressure’

In a statement to AgriLand IFA president Joe Healy said meat plants had found a way of undermining the good work done by producer groups by “using very low quoted prices every week”.

Over the years, the IFA has played a key leadership role in the formation of up to 60 farmer co-operatives in the livestock marts business.

He continued: “We were also key to the establishment of groups and co-operatives in the dairy sector. Family farms are being forced out through globalisation and the constant race to the bottom on prices.

“Farmers cannot survive the downward price pressure being pushed back against them.”

Healy went on to say that he had worked at EU level to change policy in relation to unfair trading practices and contributed to increased transparency across the food chain.

“We have made some progress – but a lot more needs to be done,” he added.