Mismatch between farmer and retailer price ‘must be investigated’

Without beef processing price data being released, the idea of a cartel operating among processors simply cannot be ruled out, according to Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway-Walsh.

The Mayo senator was speaking at a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Food and Agriculture at which the future of the beef sector was examined.

Senator Conway-Walsh said that many small farmers, especially in Mayo, are not getting fair or stable prices for beef.

“Many of them cannot switch to dairy farming, where milk prices are fixed by the EU.

The mismatch between the price that farmers are getting and the retail price of beef needs to be investigated.

“The fact that all processors seem to be offering the same price only breeds suspicion that a cartel culture exists among the major processors,” she added.

“The data is held by the Department of Agriculture. This data should be released so that the Consumer Protection Commission can conduct a proper investigation.”

The senator added that the four movement rule is also affecting the price that farmers get for cattle that have been moved location more than four times, calling for the rule to be scrapped.

The massive increases in insurance premiums are already the subject of scrutiny by the Oireachtas and the key to getting explanations for the increases is data.

“We must access and make public all relevant data,” Senator Conway-Walsh concluded.