‘Irish Beef Producers’ entity almost over the line

The Beef Plan Movement is in the final stages of officially establishing its new producer organisation under the registered name ‘Irish Beef Producers’.

After more than four months of planning, the last outstanding document – an incorporation document for company registration – was submitted to a Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine approved facilitator last Friday, August 30.

In a statement to AgriLand, a spokesperson for the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, confirmed that “an application has been received by the department and is currently being processed”.

It is understood that a meeting will soon take place between the movement’s leaders and department officials to discuss the farmer-owned enterprise.

Throughout the escalating beef crisis, the Beef Plan Movement has repeatedly stated that the aim of establishing a producer organisation (PO) is to allow farmers – as members of the PO – to “legally and collectively” negotiate price with the country’s meat factories.

Below is an exclusive image of the logo for the up-and-coming organisation:

It is understood that, if the application is successful, the Beef Plan would have access to financial support from the department to the sum of €3,000 to set up the PO.

It is understood that a growing number of members have agreed to supply beef to the PO; currently the bulk of these members are based in the Roscommon/Galway region.

However, Beef Plan expects this number to expand to all regions once the PO is up and running.

Speaking to AgriLand, Eoin Donnolly chairman of the Beef Plan Movement’s western region said: “We have a meeting lined up with officials at Agriculture House to hopefully close it out in full.

“Some frustration on my part has been the lack of specific tasks listed to ensure that steps in the process are clear.

“Without a clear step-by-step plan it is difficult to know what has to be done and by whom,” he said.

Bargaining power

Last Friday, August 30, Minister Creed acknowledged Beef Plan’s desire to set up a producer organisation during an interview on RTÉ Radio 1.

When asked about the possibility of returning for a second round of beef sector reform talks and the likelihood of poor factory-gate prices being addressed, the minister said:

“One of the things that it [the Beef Plan Movement] wants, which we are facilitating, is the establishment of producer organisations – which gives farmers collectively more power to negotiate with processors.

We [will] support producer organisations financially – and we are prepared to look at additional supports to get these producer organisations up and running.

“Rather than being a price taker when you rock up outside any one of the meat plants on any given day, that collectively, through producer organisations, that they can negotiate the issue of price – which I can’t do,” the minister told the Drivetime show.

Contract Facilitators

Last January, the department confirmed that contracts had been awarded for the provision of advisory services to producer organisations in the beef sector.

At the time, the department also provided guidelines and recommendations to assist farmers and other interested stakeholders who wish to avail of the services of the approved facilitator.

The following parties were approved as facilitators for the provision of advisory services to producer organisations in the beef sector:
  • Agribusiness and Food Policy Consultants;
  • Clare Consultants t/a Philip Farrelly and Partners;
  • Farrelly and Scully Limited;
  • Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA);
  • Livestock Internet Services Limited;
  • Philip Farrelly and Company Limited;
  • Teagasc.

When announcing the appointment of the advisers, Minister Creed said: “The recognition of a producer organisation by my department allows them to negotiate collectively on behalf of their members with processors, for the price they receive for cattle they supply for slaughter.

“This is a very important step in allowing primary producers to proactively engage with processors in negotiating the supply and sale price of their cattle.

“I am sure that such groups could also play a key role in the future in ensuring that beef is produced to the high standards of food safety, quality and environmental sustainability demanded by consumers,” he said.

A prospective PO must have a minimum of 20 members in order to get approval to set up an official organisation.