Creed urged to seek EU beef price intervention commitment

Paul Ross, a farmer and local area representative in Co. Longford, has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, to push for the intervention buying of beef in Brussels in order to underpin current “non-profitable” price levels.

The Ballymahon suckler and beef farmer, who is a Fine Gael representative in the county, put forward a notice of motion on the matter at a recently held meeting of the local authority.

However, speaking to AgriLand this morning, cllr. Ross said the situation has become much more serious following last night’s (January 15) vote on Brexit in the House of Commons.

The withdrawal agreement, negotiated between the UK and the EU, was overwhelmingly defeated in the House of Commons, with 432 votes against, and only 202 in favour of the deal.

“I propose this motion at a time when beef price is at a historical low for this time of the year; now after last night’s Brexit vote the situation is all the more volatile,” he added.

“There has been a prolonged period of depressed price since last August and beef farmers are losing their shirt on animals purchased over the last 12 months.

“All of this comes on top of a difficult summer, weather wise, in which animals did not thrive and fodder was scarce.”

A perfect storm

The Co. Longford farmer went on to say that the sector was now faced with “a perfect storm” scenario.

“In what is a perfect storm, the sector is faced with the whole debacle that is Brexit and the devastating effects that it will have on the entire beef industry,” he continued.

The impact of agriculture on rural economies cannot be underestimated. When our economy was on its knees 10 years ago it was the spend by farmers in their local areas that kick-started the economic recovery that we enjoy today.

Tariffs

Cllr. Ross also told AgriLand that any imposition of tariffs on Irish beef going into the UK “could finish the industry”.

“A potential imposition of tariffs on Irish beef going into the UK if Brexit succeeds – and where half of all our beef currently goes – could finish off the industry if measures are not taken,” he added.

“The effect that yesterday’s vote will undoubtedly have on sterling’s value will depress the price even further and now is the time for aid from the EU.”

The Co. Longford farmer said the use of intervention and aids to storage had historically proven to be effective in the dairy industry.

“Recently in 2014 the EU brought in compensation when Russia banned vegetables from western Europe. I believe that we are going to have to look for these measures to be introduced as soon as possible before farmers exit the industry forever,” cllr. Ross concluded.