A spokesperson for the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has confirmed to Agriland that the organisation’s President Patrick Kent will meet the North’s Farm Minister Michelle O’Neill in Wexford on Thursday of this week and added:

“Difficulties in exporting store cattle live to Northern Ireland are contributing to the current beef crisis, and ICSA will meet Stormont Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill in Wexford to discuss all of these matters in detail.”

Michelle O’Neill has recently made clear her views on this matter. Speaking at a recent meeting in Dubin, which was also attended by Martin Ferris TD, spokesperson on agriculture, food and the marine, she reiterated her commitment to working towards a solution to the issue of nomadic cattle.

She said;“The way forward for the beef sector is to seek an all-island label, Irish beef.

“Nomad cattle, from the South, can be sold directly to abattoirs in the North but a price penalty is being applied, because some customer specifications do not allow for the cattle to have spent time in more than one jurisdiction.

“The consequence of this is that buyers from the North are not coming South.  We have to act together to protect our cross border trade. It is surely an anomaly that we have free trade within the EU, but not on our own island.

Martin Ferris TD added;“Sinn Féin’s TDs, MLAs and MEPs are committed to finding a solution to this problem which is damaging trade in marts and for producers, particularly in the West and along the border.”

The other key player in this debate is the Dublin farm minister. Michelle O’Neill has made it clear that she will be seeking talks on the matter with Simon Coveney, or his successor, as a matter of priority.