The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney remains cool on the idea of a beef regulator despite numerous calls from both fellow TDs and farm organisations.

The Minister in responding to a parliamentary question this week on the subject said he does not believe a Beef Regulator is ‘appropriate’ and went on to say that , questions of price are ultimately matters to be determined between the purchasers and the sellers of cattle.

“It is neither appropriate nor possible for me or any other Minister for Agriculture in the EU, to intervene directly on these issues. Cattle prices are determined by supply / demand dynamics which are in turn influenced by the seasonality of production, the length of the production lifecycle and market conditions such as retail promotions, consumer confidence, competition with other meats and the overall macroeconomic situation.”

The Minister outlined that the state, through the Competition Authority already has a well established infrastructure for dealing with allegations of anti competitive practices and I do not consider it appropriate to replicate that structure by establishing a beef regulator. He added: “I should also point out that there is an array of information available on the prices paid in Ireland and elsewhere. My Department collates the prices paid for domestic cattle on a weekly basis and reports this data to the European Commission.”

As regards the specifications applied at factory level, Minister Coveney said that these are a matter for agreement between producers and processors.

He said: “What is important, from my perspective, is that these specifications sufficiently remunerate farmers for producing quality animals, provide appropriate production incentives that are reflective of market demands, and are communicated to producers in a clear and timely manner. I will, of course, continue to engage with both farmers and processors to ensure that these specifications are applied in a fair and transparent manner.”

“I established a Beef Roundtable earlier this year to facilitate such discussions between the parties. One of the key outcomes arising from this Roundtable involves better and more timely communication between processors and producers aimed at transmitting early and clearer market signals which bring about more strategically planned sectoral responses.”