Investigation into beef industry called for by Healy Rae

An investigation into beef factories and the beef sector in general in relation to the low prices that are currently being paid has been called for by independent TD Danny Healy Rae.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Joint Committee for Agriculture, Food and the Marine yesterday (Tuesday, February 19) on the topic of the beef sector, the Kerry TD highlighted the price difference between beef paid to farmers in the UK, and those in the Republic of Ireland.

Danny Healy Rae: “Basically the beef farmers, and the suckler farmers, all those fellows, are in a critical state at the present time and are very, very concerned.

Meetings

“The meetings that are being held at present by this beef plan outfit and the numbers that they’re attracting proves that those type of farmers are really concerned. Young and old are at these meetings and they’re very, very concerned. They feel they’re at a crossroads now.

“One of the big things that’s been said at these farmers’ meetings is the fact that they’re held to a certain price by the factories; and the factories have all the data – and they know when the animals are reaching 16 months, 24 months and 30 months.

And they have that advantage on the farmers, because they know when the volumes of stock are going to appear – and they seem to be able to reduce the price at will.

“And you see the poor farmer is up against that technology now at the present time. I raised it last week – there’s no difference at all in the carcass, you can’t see any difference in the carcass hanging down there; you can’t say it’s 29 months; 30 months; 31 months.

“There’s something wrong there and there needs to be an investigation into what is happening or the factories and the department needs to be brought to task about those rules and regulations that are manifesting themselves and hurting the farmers in the prices that they’re getting.

“And I’m calling for an inquiry here today chairman; how is it that there was a programme being done about Brexit the other day for the marts in the north of Ireland, and the farmers up there were delighted with the prices that they were getting with the prices there?

“And the same story with the prices in mainland England.

How is it that just a few miles away from us – even over the ditch we’ll say in the north of Ireland – what’s gone wrong that there’s such a difference between the price of cattle between the north of Ireland and the south of Ireland?

Deputy Healy Rae stressed that whoever is responsible, be that the minister, the department or someone else, needs to answer to the committee as to what’s gone wrong that there is such a price difference between north and south of the border.

“Them are the questions I’m being asked as a politician at these meetings. And it’s a serious question – I can’t answer it – I need to get an answer from the minister or the Government or the department or whoever’s involved because it’s totally wrong.”

Bord Bia

The Kerry TD said that farmers in the south “jump through every hoop” of regulations but are not being paid for them.

Bord Bia also came into the firing line, with the deputy noting that, while the state body is carrying out inspections, it is not doing enough to market exports.

“I don’t believe that they’re marketing our animals and our produce as good as they could be. And the live trade I see here that there’s going to be a focus on it again this year – it should be a focus.

“And there’s no question about it because if the live trade isn’t opened up and if there isn’t something done to deal with the extra animals that we’re producing, the factories will have another field day this year at the expense of the farmers,” Healy Rae concluded.

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