A candidate running in the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) elections has drawn attention to the turnovers of the ‘top 10’ Irish companies that process beef.

Speaking this morning – as the IFA blockade continued at the Dunnes Stores depot in Cornelscourt, Dublin – IFA presidential candidate John Coughlan criticised the fact the Beef Market Taskforce has met “just once in 87 days”.

The Co. Cork beef, dairy and tillage farmer cited figures published by The Irish Times in its latest ‘Top 1,000 companies’ report.

Coughlan indicated that Ireland’s top 10 beef companies combined had a turnover of €7.6 billion in 2018.

The 10 companies, summarised in the table below, are all members of Bord Bia’s ‘Beef Member List’ and are involved in the slaughter and processing of Irish beef.

Commenting on the figures, Coughlan said: “The scale of the combined turnover of Ireland’s top 10 beef companies is a ‘slap in the face’ to beef farmers who are told time and time again that they must accept the apparent reality that there is no money to be made in the beef sector. There clearly is.

“Huge profits are being made but, due to a lack of supply-chain transparency and a refusal by beef factories to raise the price paid for beef, beef farmers are not achieving a fair share,” he said.

The 2018 Teagasc National Farm Survey outlined that the average farm income of beef farmers in 2018 fell 21% to €8,318 – 80% below Ireland’s average industrial wage.

Ireland’s 75,000 beef farmers earn a collective €610.4 million.

Continuing, the IFA candidate stressed: “Beef farm families are on their knees. The ongoing protests are a reflection of how serious this issue is and the need for action and change.

The Beef Market Taskforce was announced by Michael Creed on September 15, and in the 87 days since, there has been one meeting – scheduled following the recent tractor protests in Dublin.

“The 5c/kg rise announced in recent days is paltry and does nothing for a beef farmer on €8,138.”

Concluding, Coughlan said: “The Government needs to realise that for farmers, the Beef Taskforce is the equivalent of the national pay talks.

“All the parties to the talks, including the meat industry and retailers, need to meet, put a plan in place and act as a matter of urgency.”