Meat processors reject Hogan’s claim they are ‘squeezing farmers’

Comments by the EU Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan, that farmers are being ‘squeezed’ ignore the reality of the European marketplace, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has said.

Speaking in Brussels this week, Phil Hogan said supermarkets and processors are squeezing Irish farmers and that it is important that beef farmers survive. “I am very concerned at the developments in recent times where there has been no effort made in order to share information to ensure the regulatory systems in place ensure quality.”

He said producers are working in “penal times” and it was his role to ensure producers can survive in this difficult time and are able to produce good quality raw material and that supermarkets and meat processors will not squeeze them further.

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has said it will be seeking a meeting with the Commissioner to clarify his comments. It said that the comments in relation to the ‘squeezing’ of farmers ignore the reality of the European marketplace where beef consumption has declined by 700,000 tonnes annually since 2010 and production has increased in 2014 resulting fall in cattle prices right across Europe; his comments in relation to ‘quality’ and ‘regulatory systems’ at best lack clarity.

A spokesperson for MII said only the Commissioner can adapt CAP supports to beef farmers to counterbalance cyclical market prices. Also of utmost importance to the sector is the threat of trade deals and their potential impact, securing more EU access internationally for food exports and ensuring a viable efficient beef producer base.

MII stated that the processors referred to in his comments are the same processors that delivered Irish cattle price increases of 40% during the period 2010 to 2013.