According to figures from the Central Statistic Office (CSO), from January to September 2019, a total of 777t of fresh/chilled and frozen beef – to the value of €3 million – was imported from Poland to Ireland.
The figures were outlined by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, in response to a question from Longford/Westmeath Labour TD Willie Penrose on Wednesday, November 27.
Responding to the question, Minister Creed also outlined: “I can also confirm that from January to December 2018, Ireland imported 1,251t of fresh/chilled and frozen beef to the value of €4.6 million from Poland.”
Major talking point
The clarification from Minister Creed comes as beef imports have been a major talking point among farmers, in particular, at the recent series of Irish Farmers’ Association presidential debates.
At the IFA presidential debate in Cavan, the three presidential candidates were questioned on the beef imports.
Co. Wicklow beef, sheep and tillage farmer Angus Woods addressed concerns on Polish beef imports saying: “Bear in mind, last year, a total of 40,000t of beef came into Ireland. The vast majority of that came in from the UK and was exported back out as food product.”
He outlined: “We have to bear in mind we’re exporting 570,000t of beef. We can not eat and never will be able to eat all the beef we produce. As an exporting nation, that [beef imports] is part of what we have to deal with, as part of Europe.”
Commenting on beef import concerns, Co. Cork dairy, beef and tillage farmer John Coughlan said: “The reality is that transparency is our problem in this country. None of us know what is really going on in the beef industry.
“When you see the price of beef in Poland at €2.80/kg two months ago and we’re trying to compete with that.”
He outlined that Europe’s cheap food policy is a major issue affecting the price of beef and said: “We have to get a beef taskforce up and running and get transparency in the industry.”
Co. Tipperary pig farmer Tim Cullinan told Cavan IFA members: “I can’t confirm it but there’s strong rumors out there that there is a lot of Polish beef being imported into this country.
“That is depressing the price farmers are getting for beef at the moment and we have to ask the question why is there beef coming in and we’re being told farmers can’t kill cattle at the moment. That’s something we have to investigate.”