Factories must put €30 million ‘on the table’ to fix grid – IFA treasurer

Factories must contribute €30 million to make changes to the beef grid system, according to the treasurer of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Tim Cullinan, who is also a candidate for the association’s presidency, was speaking after talks between farmer representative groups, processors and officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Cullinan said that, should Meat Industry Ireland (MII) – the group that represents processors – return to the talks without “money on the table”, it would “quite simply undermine beef farmers and undermine the negotiations”.

Any talk by the factories of reviewing the grid, without putting money on the table to fix it, is absolutely disingenuous and will not yield any results for beef farmers, who have been severely penalised by the same grid for many years.

“The factories must put their hands in their pockets if the grid issue is to be resolved. There is no point in MII going away from the talks to consider the grid system if they are not prepared to come back to the table with €30 million to address the issues which are weighing on farmers and cutting their incomes,” added Cullinan.

He claimed that a failure to do so on the part of MII would be “merely paying lip service” to the talks.

“The fact is, the grid cannot and will not be fixed without money,” Cullinan argued.

These talks have taken place on the back of a nationwide series of protests, spearheaded by the Beef Plan Movement, at meat plants around the country.

“Beef farmers lost up to €30 million in income last year alone, as a consequence of the penalties imposed by the factory-run grid system,” according to the IFA treasurer.

“The system is heavily stacked against farmers and weighted towards the factories. At a time when incomes are under pressure, the grid places further unacceptable and unbearable costs on beef and suckler farmers,” Cullinan concluded.