IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns has accused the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney of not taking the beef crisis seriously and failing to tackle the factories over what he says is the way they have abused farmers this spring and torn up the Quality Payment System by imposing dual base prices, new and additional weight and age specification price cuts.

Henry Burns was speaking following a Dáil debate on the beef crisis, which the Minister did not attend because he was in the US. Burns said the Minister needs to urgently address the domestic crisis in the beef sector with the factories as otherwise he will not have a viable and sustainable beef sector to promote overseas. “Minister Coveney fails to understand that for Ireland to have a strong beef export sector, we must have a profitable farm sector with viable prices for producers.”

He went on to say that the IFA has repeatedly requested Minister Coveney to intervene with the factories and insist that they honour the agreement they entered into with farmers on the Quality Payment System. “IFA has also demanded that the Minister remove the roadblocks impeding the live trade to Northern Ireland, which is vital for price competition. Minister Coveney needs to be much more proactive and supportive of the live export trade, essential for price competition in the sector.”

The Livestock leader said the Dáil debate was helpful in continuing to highlight the problems and the inaction of the Minister on the factories and the beef crisis. However, he said more TDs needed to get involved and reflect the real income in livestock as opposed to blindly defending their Minister when it is clear urgent action needs to be taken.

Meanwhile the IFA has confirmed to Agriland that it will not be attending next Tuesday’s meeting of the UK Beef Forum. A spokesperson said it does not anticipate that Irish farming representatives will be invited to attend. “The IFA has a very strong and close working relationship with the National Farmers Union (NFU), the recognised organisation representing the views of UK farmers.”