Macra na Feirme’s president believes a clear message has emerged from yesterday’s (Tuesday, March 9) meeting of the Beef Market Taskforce.

The taskforce convened yesterday to discuss the current beef price and the wider market situation along with the latest in the set of transparency reports commissioned by the taskforce and carried out by Grant Thornton.

Macra na Feirme president Thomas Duffy said:

“Large questions remain for farmers on the future of the beef industry. The recent cut to beef prices for winter finishers is clearly not justified when looking at the Bord Bia Price tracker.

“The question of market preference for bull beef remains virtually unanswered in the latest report by Grant Thornton.

In a presentation made previously to the Beef taskforce meeting by major retailers and sellers of Irish beef, only one retailer cited an unwillingness to stock Irish beef from under 16-month-old bulls.

Following submissions by Macra na Feirme on the lack of focus in the draft report, it was confirmed that only a minority of beef product purchasers raised any objection to the use of bull beef in their products.

“Under 16-month grass-fed Irish beef bulls are essential to both meet climate ambitions and to protect the Irish suckler sector. Consumer preference is often blamed, but there is little evidence of this in the report,” Duffy added.

Despite the potential for environmental benefits, bull beef continues to receive little support from processors or in promotion. Those few processors who are paying QPS [Quality Payment Scheme] bonus, are only paying at the lower rate.

Macra na Feirme has welcomed the comments by Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue on the need for greater support for farmers and the importance of stability in the market around breed bonus and carcass limits.

However, Macra has said that it has, again, urged the state bodies to ensure a future for the most efficient beef finishers in the market.