Full house at Ag House for first taskforce meeting

It is understood that all stakeholders in the Beef Market Taskforce are now inside Agriculture House on Kildare Street in Dublin for its first meeting this morning, Tuesday, December 3.

Today marks seven weeks and one day since the taskforce – which was established as part of September’s Irish Beef Sector Agreement – was due to meet for the first time.

A protest outside Agriculture House – the headquarters of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine – on that day resulted in the taskforce being postponed, only to be reconvened today.

In answer to a question by AgriLand before the meeting, Joe Healy, the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), insisted that engagement from Meat Industry Ireland (MII) was paramount.

“The other side has to engage with us, because the prices that are being paid are not sustainable,” he argued.

Healy continued: “The Irish factories have kept those at abnormally low prices, at a time when we have seen, since the middle of August, the prices in our main markets moving on.

“The gap has continued to widen and the Irish price hasn’t moved off its base,” he said.

Healy’s opposite number in the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), Pat McCormack, also stressed the need for the processors to engage with the farmer organisations.

I would be hopeful of engagement. Obviously, they came here six or seven weeks ago to engage with farmers.

“We’re not sure what their engagement would have been once they got inside the door, but it is certainly necessary for MII to engage with farmers in a meaningful way,” McCormack added.

Unlike the abandoned first meeting of the taskforce on October 14, there was no protest or other such action at ‘Ag House’ this morning.

The stakeholders in the Beef Market Taskforce are as follows: MII; IFA; ICMSA; the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA); Macra na Feirme; the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA); and Beef Plan Movement.

Officials from the department will also be present.

Stay tuned to AgriLand for further updates throughout the day…