ICSA has queried the absence of supermarket representatives from the beef roundtable forum set up by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney earlier this year in response to the crisis in the beef industry.

“Only last week Minister Coveney said on radio that all players in the beef industry were involved in the roundtable talks, but this is not the case,” said ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan.

“As we’ve seen recently, the supermarkets are dictating labelling policy and also influencing factory specifications, so why are they not at the table? They are key stakeholders in the beef sector and need to be held accountable for the role of their practices in creating and prolonging the crisis.

“Meat factories are constantly peddling the line that changes in their specifications and penalties are as a result of supermarket demands. If that is so, let the supermarkets come in and explain their position and the research behind it,” he continued.

“The last meeting of the forum was held on June 3, and Minister Coveney has committed to quarterly meetings. We have no indication yet as to when the next meeting will take place, but we are now asking the Minister to ensure that the supermarkets are represented there.”

The beef roundtable forum was set up by Minister Coveney in April and has so far involved farm organisations, beef processors and relevant state agencies. It held its first meeting on April 17, after which the Minister committed to quarterly meetings, with the second held on June 3.