Movement calls for beef intervention as no-deal Brexit looms closer

With concerns mounting over the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, following last night’s vote in the House of Commons, AgriLand spoke to farm leaders here in Ireland about the beef sector and the supports that are now needed to prevent its collapse as March 29 looms closer.

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Eamon Corley, chairman of the Beef Plan Movement, said legislation was now needed to protect the primary producer.

“There is no floor or minimum limit on beef at the moment so that needs to be set. A no-deal Brexit looks very likely now and so there would need to be intervention at some level to keep farmers safe.”

He went on to say that the Brexit problem had not been created by the Irish and, therefore, an expectation was on the EU that it would put some type of support mechanism in place to protect beef farming in this country.

“The farmer shouldn’t be expected to take the full hit; at the moment factories won’t take bulls and this is because there is an over-supply of beef, but there is no doubt but there is a real crisis in the sector at the moment,” he added.

He went on to say that the Irish Government had been “sleep-walking” on the whole Brexit issue.

The marketing of Irish beef is deplorable and the Irish Government is going to have to put pressure on the EU so that intervention is opened up, a price level is set and the farmer doesn’t have to carry the can. The Government has been sleep-walking on the Brexit issue from the very beginning.

Live exports

The movement’s chairman then pointed to live exports and the difficulties arising in respect of calves.

“More is going to have to be done by the Government to deal with a number of issues, including with the exporting of calves,” he said. “There are going to be issues with calves and particularly when they arrive at their destinations within the EU this year.

There are good opportunities into China at the moment so, if the Government could put pressure on the powers that be to issue the necessary licence in respect of that, that would really help the beef sector in this country now.

“Factories are not taking cattle at the moment; bulls and cows are the hardest hit there, and steers and heifers have no chance because the price for them isn’t even viable.”

Meanwhile, the movement is holding meetings in the coming weeks.

The list includes:
  • Roscommon: Castlerea Mart – January 16 at 8:00pm;
  • Armagh: Ballymacnab Community Hall, Redrock – January 17 at 8:00pm;
  • Galway: Peacockes Hotel, Maam Cross – January 21 at 8:00pm;
  • Limerick: Kilmallock Mart – January 22 at 8:00pm;
  • Sligo/Leitrim: Ballymote Mart – January 23 at 8:00pm;
  • Meath/Louth/Dublin: Ardboyne Hotel, Navan – January 24 at 8:30pm;
  • Monaghan: Glencarn Hotel, Castleblaney – January 30 at 8:00pm;
  • Mayo: Mayo/Sligo Mart, Ballina – February 6 at 8:00pm; and
  • Roscommon: Elphin Mart – February 21 at 8:00pm.