The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has confirmed that he will be “engaging with the sector to discuss” the possibility of abolishing the Bord Bia beef levy.

The new minister – who was appointed a week ago on Wednesday (September 2) – discussed a number of topics during an in-depth interview with AgriLand news editor Stella Meehan and journalist Sylvester Phelan.

One topic that was discussed was the Bord Bia levy paid by farmers for cattle that are exported and brought to meat factories for processing.

Back in December, as the Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesperson, McConalogue outlined how he favoured removing the levy paid to Bord Bia. The question was put to him – now as a senior cabinet minister – whether or not this still is the case.

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Will you abolish the Bord Bia levy on beef? It was one of the promises made in December; do you intend to push through with this?

Minister McConalogue: I think it’s something certainly I’ll be engaging with the sector to discuss.

My objective overall is to try and reduce the burden on farmers; but it certainly was a suggestion I made that needed to be looked at.

I will be engaging to see what the capacity is to reduce costs on farmers. The practicalities of the levy in particular is something I’ll be looking at and engaging with further.

I would make a particular point in relation to the value of the work that Bord Bia carries out and the importance of marketing and the importance of supporting that and properly funding that, because what we need to do is to ensure that – with the premium product that we produce – we make every effort to ensure that we’re getting a premium price and new markets as well.

It would be crucial that, whatever approach we take, that we fully fund Bord Bia and support that work.

Would that mean gathering resources from another outlet – apart from the levy?

Minister McConalogue: The bottom line is the organisation – I’m absolutely committed to ensuring that the organisation is fully funded and continue to support that work. In terms of how we go about reducing costs on farmers, that’s something that I will also explore.

But, regardless of what the possibilities are around that, I’m totally committed to ensuring that we fund Bord Bia.

It’s something we’ll need to accelerate into the future as well, given the importance of ensuring that markets are developed and [that] the premium aspect of our product is focused on as well.

Stay tuned to AgriLand for further articles (on other pressing topics) from our extensive interview with the new Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine…