Ó Cuív calls for beef market inquiry

Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman Éamon Ó Cuív is calling on Farm Minister Simon Coveney to establish an independent inquiry to ascertain the full facts regarding the recent collapse in Irish beef prices.

“There is something fundamentally wrong with the operation of the beef market at the present time,” he added.

“I pointed out this salient fact to Minister Coveney back in the autumn. But my comments were pooh poohed at the time. And now look at the situation that we are in!”

Éamon Ó Cuív continued:

“Courtesy of our membership of the EU, we are supposed to be in a free market. But this is obviously not the case at the present time. The fact that Irish beef is now being portrayed in certain quarters as being a form of inferior product just doesn’t stack up. The reality is that British consumers are more than happy to pay the same price for Irish beef as they are for meat produced in Britain.

Éamon Ó Cuív is particularly incensed that Irish farmers cannot sell cattle live into the UK, without incurring severe penalties.

“The most obvious outlet for our live exports is Northern Ireland,” he added.

“And the reality is that cattle born and bred in the Irish Republic have, quite possibly, superior animal health and welfare credentials that their counterparts that have been reared in the North.

“It was my clear understanding that Farm Ministers in both parts of Ireland had committed to developing all-island animal health policies. This initiative must not be allowed to dissipate.”

Éamon Ó Cuív is calling on Simon Coveney to appoint a respected independent authority figure within Irish agriculture to carry out his proposed beef inquiry.

“It should only take a few months for the person appointed to carry out the required work,” \he added.

“This will entail interviews being carried out with all relevant parties and a full assessment carried out of the facts uncovered. If this approach doesn’t get us where we need to be then  the European Commission should be asked to carry out an official inquiry into the current beef debacle.”

Éamon Ó Cuív concluded:

“I am deeply concerned about the flawed operation of our beef market at the present time. It is time Farm Minister Coveney played his part in finding a solution to the many problems confronting Irish beef farmers at the present time.”