No levies should be taken out of farmers cheques – ICSA President

There should be no levies taken out of farmer’s cheques, ICSA President Patrick Kent has said.

Speaking to Agriland, Kent said that a lot of these extortionate levies can be conjured up by meat plants without benefiting the farmer on the ground.

“We need to get the benefits back to the farmer. We in ICSA are an organisation that do not stand for any levies to be taken out of farmers cheques.

“We work on a membership only basis, unlike other organisations, and when we are at the table negotiating with meat plants we are not worried about them paying us a cheque,” he said.

Kent also questioned the reasoning behind charges such as the disease levy and insurance and clipping charges.

There can be a €5 insurance charge on animals that are a relatively safe bet, whereas animals like old cows are not insurable, this has got to be reviewed.

“There are also clipping charges applied to some animals at a time of the year when cattle are coming in clean of grass.

“All levies have to be questioned, there are disease levies that are out of date,” he said.

The ICSA leader also said that he doesn’t believe that farmers are getting value for money from the Bord Bia levy.

“We need to see more evidence that the money is being spent wisely and it doesn’t seem to be the case.

“The whole Bord Bia audit system has got to be reviewed. There are huge questions to be asked of Bord Bia on that,” he said.

More competition needed

Kent also said that more competition is needed in both the beef and sheep sectors as it is lacking due to consolidation at the top.

“There have been a lot of small abattoirs that have unjustifiably shut down.

“Whereas there were supports for large operators in the past, there needs to be supports put in place to get small abattoirs into production,” he said.

Along with playing a vital role in competition, Kent said that small abattoirs can lead to the development of niche products which help to prevent the price of beef and lamb dropping even further and can provide a valuable source of employment for local people.

“We need a Government initiative to back that and the industry needs to be looked at from top to bottom and to be re-examined,” he said.