An independent regulator is needed for the beef industry, according to Fianna Fail’s spokesperson on agriculture Eamon O Cuiv.

Speaking at a Dail Private Members Motion recently he said the Irish beef industry needs the regulator to try and determine who gets what from the animals provided to factories – something the French are doing.

“We need to learn who is making a profit from this because this information would highlight much of what we seek today. A beef regulator would give ordinary farmers a strong and independent representative in this David and Goliath battle that would stand up for a fair return…Britain has a food ombudsman and Ireland has not provided for this in the new Bill – we need one.”

He said that since he was appointed as the Fianna Fáil spokesperson on agriculture he has argued that two pillars are required to make Irish agriculture strong. “First we need the CAP to be fairly distributed, on an objective basis, across the various schemes. Second, the issue of fair prices for farmers must be addressed. I have always advocated this two-pillar policy.

“I think it is fair to say that the Minister gives the impression of being the Minister for agri-business but not the Minister for farmers.”

He said this is the impression people get from the Ministers speeches. “The Minister should read his own speeches. We want good family farms in Ireland and we want all of the land to be farmed. We want people to get a fair return for their products. We believe it is vital for the future of rural Ireland, the quality of food produced here and the image of Ireland as a green country that we maintain the family farm as the cornerstone of agriculture. We must not allow corporate farming that decimates rural Ireland.”

Regardless of the industry, he said that workers are entitled to make a decent standard of living from their hard work and effort, yet today in the Irish agricultural industry the primary producer in the food chain is being systematically undercut.” The cornerstone of the industry, the family farm, is being whittled away by mounting pressure on price and market manipulation.”

The ongoing beef crisis is a clear case in point, he said, and some 80,000 dry-stock farmers are seeing their work and effort sapped by large processors and supermarkets.

“There is untapped potential for the agricultural sector to flourish as the main employer in rural Ireland. However, this will be dead in the water if the price return to farmers is completely hollowed out.”