ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan said there are key issues that must be resolved in any talks between farm organisations and the meat industry.
“Meat factories and supermarkets are very much mistaken if they think that the inevitable beef price rise when cattle get scarce will soften up farmers at this stage. Equally, a temporary ceasefire on weight limits for bulls will not be enough to restore confidence to the suckler and quality cattle sector.
“There is too much anger among farmers at the way in which they have been ripped off to the tune of some €168 million over the past 12 months while UK consumers continue to pay the same price at retail level. A complete root and branch review of pricing structures is now required.”
Edmond reiterated that any deal on a solution to the ongoing beef crisis must involve all farm organisations, meat industry representatives and ideally supermarket representatives and cover all the issues, which are:
- A Quality Assurance bonus to be paid on all Quality Assured animals.
- No more discrimination on over 30 month cattle
- Fair play for marts with an end to the residency and four movements requirement
- A realistic age and weight spec for high quality continental suckler cattle
- Changes to spec and pricing systems can only occur through negotiation with farmer representatives and with adequate lead in times for farmers
“It’s quite clear that the meat factories are worried about ICSA’s threat to withdraw from the Quality Assured Scheme but they are very much mistaken if they think they can do a bilateral deal behind closed doors without addressing all the key issues,” said Edmond. “ICSA has always been available for discussions on these issues, but unless we see meaningful progress, we will continue with our planned action.”
“This situation is a true test of the value of the beef roundtable talks, and the Minister must announce the date for the next meeting immediately,” he said.