Industry reps to attend open beef ‘crisis’ meeting

Representatives of the beef industry will be in attendance at a crisis beef and livestock meeting – open to all farmers – that is being organised by Laois Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) in response to the current market climate and plummeting prices.

Set to be held this Monday, April 15, the meeting will kick off at 8:30pm in the Killeshin Hotel Portlaoise.

Cormac Healy, director of Meat Industry Ireland, as well as speakers from Bord Bia, will be present at the meeting, while IFA national livestock chairman Angus Woods will also attend.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, which is open to all farmers from any county, Laois IFA chairman Francie Gorman said:

“Essentially the meeting is called to highlight the frustration of Laois beef farmers at the price of beef at the minute and also the ever-bigger picture that’s been ongoing over the past three years about income on drystock beef farms.

“The cuts to our supports, basic payment and the increased costs of production; something has to be done to support the sector – or I don’t think we’re going to have a beef sector in this country down the road.”

The chairman explained that there had been a “huge level of frustration” at the last Laois county executive meeting, with the county branch deciding to take action.

It’s a crisis beef meeting and we’re opening it up now to any farmer who wants to come from anywhere.

“Since last September, beef has been on a base price of €3.75/kg – it’s 30c/kg back from where the price was last year; bulls are back almost €1.00/kg from last year.

“People can’t stay taking those cuts and I don’t believe that the processors, the retailers, our Government or the EU fully understand the level of frustration and the level of difficulty that’s building up in terms of finance, bills owed to merchants, contractors, on the farm and how it’s going to be paid down the road.”

Gorman noted that, while some people are talking about the future, there are “an awful lot” of beef farmers living in the present, trying to pay bills out of the past.

“I think it’s important that people come and highlight that issue and try and get some support, both from our Government and the EU and processors and retailers in terms of price.”

The county chairman added that the impact of Brexit is being felt keenly by farmers.

We’re taking a massive cut to our price of beef since June 2016 and it’s been ongoing.

And if we end up with an agreed deal with Brexit, there’s going to be no compensation coming for beef farmers. And the losses since June 2016 run into hundreds of millions of euro.

“So it’s important that people come and highlight the issue on their own farm and put pressure on all parties to address those problems,” Gorman concluded.