New EU legislation on the Agricultural Markets Task Force must be implemented in Ireland and that will require a new state agency with robust oversight and resources to enforce it.

These were the sentiments expressed by Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president, Joe Healy, ahead of the beef talks today – Monday, August 12 – between the Beef Plan Movement, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed and Meat Industry Ireland (MII), as well as representatives from farming organisations within the sector.

Healy also pointed out that retailers and the EU Commission should be included in the talks that have been convened for today.

“While the factories are the main problem the retailer has a dominant role in the dysfunctional food chain that is not working for beef farmers,” he continued.

“They need to be around the table to account for their actions and to outline how they intend to address the problem.”

Representation and plans

Meanwhile, the organisation’s president pointed to why the EU Commission must be personified in the first instance.

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He added: “It needs to be represented to explain why they are allowing the EU beef market to be totally undermined with imports which fail to meet EU standards.

“The EU Commission also needs to outline its plans and supports for the Irish and EU beef sector in Brexit.”

Healy said the letter sent by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) to farmers involved in the Beef Plan Movement indicates “the current rules and enforcement structure in the area is a complete joke”.

He then pointed out that the commission should be replaced with a new regulator “that acts for all parties in the chain”.

“If anyone needs to be investigated…it is the meat factories; the CCPC has previously raided the IFA offices and threatened us – and other farmers – on numerous occasions,” added Healy.

“The CCPC is not fit for purpose from a farmer’s point of view.”

Also Read: MII threatens to ‘pull plug’ on talks due to ‘Beef Plan tent’ at GAA pitch

In conclusion, IFA’s president said that during the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee hearings on the beef sector – earlier this year – IFA called on Minister Creed and the committee to investigate “the lack of competition in the beef processing sector”.