Healy: ‘Brexit losses for beef farmers stand at €100 million’

Beef farmers have lost over €100 million since last autumn as a result of Brexit, according to the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Joe Healy was speaking at a sitting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine today, Tuesday, April 9, where he said: “Farmers cannot afford to carry this loss and it must be made good by the Government and European Commission.”

He added: “We have already put this to Minister Creed and we are looking for the support of the Agriculture Committee.”

Healy also claimed that the Food Wise 2025 strategy had “failed” in addressing the income crisis in the beef sector, and told the committee that the initiative would have to be revisited.

“While the strategy has delivered substantial growth in the volume and value of beef output, it has not worked for farmers,” argued Healy.

The IFA quotes figures that show a 19% – or €360 million – increase in live exports over the last seven years, but with no accompanying rise in prices.

Healy insisted that the crisis must be addressed at “farm level”, and that Minister Michael Creed must implement policies that will “deliver profitability”.

Angus Woods, chair of the IFA’s Livestock Committee, was also in attendance at today’s committee sitting, where he reiterated Healy’s point, adding that these polices would have to be based on returning prices for farmers above the cost of production.

As well as that, Woods argued, the Irish beef sector needed policies that would: deliver a fairer share of the consumer price back to the farmer; ensure a strong Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) with targeted direct payments; and ensure that the European and Irish sectors are not undermined by “sub-standard” South American produce.

Woods also called for the committee to request a review of the beef sector by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), in order to discover if there is a lack of competition in the beef processing sector.

The IFA is currently conducting its own review into the sector, which is being headed up by former Bank of Ireland chief economist Jim Power.