An official complaint is to be made with the European Commission over the operation of the internal market in the beef trade between Ireland, Northern Ireland and Britain.

The complaint has been made by Fianna Fail Agriculture spokesperson Éamon Ó Cuív and Senator Marc Mac Sharry, who met with the representatives of the EU Commission Internal Market and Agriculture team in Brussels in recent days.

Speaking afterwards party spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív said: “Fianna Fáil believes that artificial barriers have been put in place by powerful interests, which are now having a detrimental impact on beef farmers. There is now a need to take on these interests. We will be putting together a dossier of the barriers to trade that we believe are stopping Irish beef farmers achieving full value for their cattle. When the complaint is submitted we will be seeking an investigation into the operation of the beef trade on these islands.

“There is a commitment in the Lisbon Treaty to ensure that farmers can make a fair living from the land. It is therefore also our intention to raise the issue of fair prices for farmers on a policy level with the EU Commission. We will be seeking a level playing pitch between primary producers, processors, multiples and consumers in the interest of Irish and EU agriculture.

“We have seen in recent months a crisis in the beef trade, pressure on liquid milk famers and totally unfair practices in relation to fruit and vegetables where produce is being sold at a below cost price. Fianna Fáil believes it is vital that the EU acts to protect guarantees to farmers enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty.

“The party will now put pressure both on the new Agriculture Commissioner Designate Phil Hogan and Minister Simon Coveney to ensure this treaty provision is fully implemented. This must be a political priority over the next five years.

“This issue spans across three different commissioners; the internal market, competition and agriculture. Fianna Fáil intends pursuing this policy with all three incoming Commissioners and will expect Commissioner designate Hogan to take the lead in the matter.”