Oireachtas committee tells minister: ‘More independent processors needed’

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue appeared before an Oireachtas committee yesterday (Tuesday, October 6), where he was told that “we need more independent operators in the meat processing sector in order to ensure a truly competitive market for prices”.

Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill, the chairperson of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said today (Wednesday, October 7) that he expects a submission to be made “in the near future” in relation to the development of a meat processing plant in Banagher, Co. Offaly.

“I raised the issue of the meat plant in Banagher with the minister, and I made it clear that we need more independent operators in the sector in order to ensure a truly competitive market for prices,” Cahill said.

I understand that a submission is expected on the proposed Banagher plant soon, and I very much welcome this. Primary producers have been squeezed price-wise for far too long now, and we need more independent operators in this market to ensure our farmers get a fair price.

Cahill noted that the minister briefed the committee on Covid-19; the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); and Brexit, the three areas that the committee chair said, when he took up the role, he wanted to the work of the committee on.

“I am delighted to see the committee hitting the ground running, and securing the minister’s attendance at the first full sitting of the committee. We have started as we mean to go on, and I intend to use this position to further the voice of farmers at policy-making level,” Cahill added.

Mercosur

Minister McConalogue also addressed the issue of the EU-Mercusor Trade Deal in yesterday’s meeting.

The minster said the deal is something he has “real concern on” as his department awaits the results of an impact assessment it has commissioned.

The minister said he expects to receive the outcome of the assessment in “the near future” and that it will “certainly inform” how the department approaches the issue going forward.