Factories exploiting farmers to ‘an unbelievable extent’

Meat factories are exploiting farmers to “an believable extent”, according to Fianna Fail TD and dairy farmer Jackie Cahill.

Speaking in the Dail, deputy Cahill called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, to address what he described as the exploitation by meat factories of the current situation by “dropping prices substantially due to farmers trying to offload stock”.

Continuing, he said: “Farmers are being exploited to an unbelievable extent. Factory prices have dropped significantly in recent weeks without any reason whatsoever.

We have seen what meat factories have done in practical terms. They are exploiting the situation; that is a fact. The way prices have dropped in the past couple of weeks is completely unwarranted.

“Live exports and markets for stock will be hugely important in order that we might try to get the maximum number of cattle out of this country before winter arrives.”

Farmers have been forced to deal with little or no grass growth in recent weeks as a result of the current drought. In some cases, farmers have already started feeding first-cut silage to livestock.

Other farmers have reportedly decided to graze land which had been designated for second-cut silage, due to the halting of grass growth.

In the context of processors of primary produce – be it in the dairy or meat sectors – Minister Creed said that solidarity is needed across the industry.

“Any evidence of a lack of that in the face of the current challenges would be disappointing. Many co-ops are meeting to discuss, for example, dairy prices and that should be reflected in the context of the solidarity that is required,” he added.

‘Laying the blame at the processors’ door is misguided’

However, processors have defended beef price cuts in recent weeks.

Following criticism from the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), Cormac Healy – senior director with Meat Industry Ireland – said that official reported prices by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine show that cattle prices have weakened around this time of year in three of the last four years.

These trends are market related and any suggestions that the recent price falls are due to processors taking advantage of drought conditions are simply wrong and unjustified.

“Everyone is acutely aware and understanding of the challenges at farm level at present, but laying the blame at the processors’ door is misguided,” the senior director said.