Existing Producer Groups consider impact of new legislation
The Department of Agriculture has been meeting with existing Producer Groups following the adoption earlier this year of new legislation to give legal recognition for the first time in Ireland to Producer Organisations (POs) in the beef sector.
This legislation was one of the key recommendations to emerge from the Beef Roundtable established by the then Minister, Simon Coveney in 2014.
- Producer Organisations for the beef sector have been provided for at EU-level through new legislation introduced last year.
- The SI signed by the Minister gives effect to these rules at national level and also sets some minimum requirements for the POs to meet if they are to be given formal recognition here.
- The minimum number of members required to form a PO at 20.
- Derogation to allow for POs where the numbers of members are lower than this in a specific production or geographic area.
- Department is available to work with these groups and assist them to get started though experience has shown that successful groups are those which are driven by the members.
Since the signing into law of this S.I. Department officials have held a number of meetings with representatives of groups of existing farmers who represent several thousand farmers across Ireland.
During these meetings officials set out the requirements that Producer Organisations will need to ensure are in place in order to achieve official recognition.
These groups have gone back to review these requirements and discuss these with their membership before submitting formal applications for recognition.
The Department of Agriculture is also in the process of submitting an amendment to the Rural Development Programme to provide funding for facilitators to assist prospective groups at the start-up phase, in order to help them with the legislative elements of the recognition process.
It says this amendment will form part of Ireland’s overall amendment to the RDP and will include scheme changes and additions. The Department also plans to commence promotional activities regarding the recognition of Producer Organisations in due course.
The former Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said that POs, as can be seen from other sectors of the agricultural economy, have the potential to provide farmers with the necessary strength to effectively collaborate and deliver real and tangible benefits to their members.
“This could be through improved prices achieved for their produce as they can now collectively negotiate with processors on price received for the animals they supply. This has the potential to be a real game-changer in rebalancing the supply chain.
“It is also important to note that POs should not be seen merely as a price negotiating tool on outputs but that they can also collectively negotiate on the inputs they purchase as well as allowing them to pool resources to improve on-farm efficiencies.”
The Minister signed the necessary Statutory Instrument for the recognition of Producer Organisations on 2 February last.