With beef farmers at the factory gates this week key industry stakeholders including the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney are under intense pressure to find solutions to the sectors woes at today’s beef roundtable meeting in Dublin.

It will be the third instalment of the meeting which will be chaired by the Minister. A plethora of key beef sector stakeholders will be in attendance including farm organisations, processor representatives ICBF, Bord Bia and Teagasc.

At the previous meeting which took place in June Minister Coveney reiterated his position that questions of price and market dynamics are commercial issues between farmers and processors and he has no control over prices paid for beef.

This week ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan has reiterated that the key issue from its point of view is the unacceptable manipulation of specs by factories and retailers.

Phelan said it is totally unacceptable that specs such as the 30-month limit for steers and heifers and the sudden introduction of non-viable weight limits and ages for suckler bull beef were used this year as a key mechanism to drive down price.

“The roundtable has to instigate a complete review of the mechanisms for pricing and specification,” he said.

ICSA believes that the Minister should also ensure that retailers are represented at the roundtable.

“ICSA has written to the Minister to insist that retailers need to answer key questions on spec and to explain price differentials between here and the UK. The roundtable is the forum for this and it is essential that retailers as well as factories are answerable for the decimation of beef farmers income.”