The level of frustration and anger of local beef farmers at the IFA’s latest beef protest was palpable Sinn Féin MEP for the Midland’s North West Constituency Matt Carthy.
He said the fact that this is the first protest of this type in 15 years is testament to the growing sense of desperation felt by many farmers as they continue to see no improvement on the issue of beef pricing.
“Beef farmers are at their wits end as they continue to produce a high quality product to specific standards yet the Irish beef prices are now below the EU average while the price paid for beef in Britain has increased by €100 per head in recent weeks and are now at €350 per head above Irish beef prices,” he said.
Carthy outlined that many farmers spoke to him of the manipulation of the factories and processing plants who control the price paid to farmers for their beef. He said in many cases there has been a lack of monitoring and control on processors who have used price and specification cuts for weight and age not included in the original Quality Payment System as a tool to devalue livestock.
“Meanwhile a 2013 report by Teagasc has confirmed that the income of cattle farmers has reduced between 12% and 22% with the average family income in this category now at very low levels between €9,469 and €15,595 depending on the production system. This is despite the fact that production costs have seen an average increase of 7% with an increase in feed costs of between 44% and 95%.
“In my view, the Minister for Agriculture has not responded adequately to this growing crisis to date and has allowed the factories and processors to run amok causing untold damage to the beef sector and farmer’s incomes,” he said.
Carthy said there must be regulation imposed on the processors before more farmers are forced out of beef and this valuable industry is lost altogether. The MEP stated that he is calling on the Minister for Agriculture to intervene immediately to ensure that the interests of beef farmers are adequately protected.