Rules and regulations are curtailing the beef price – Kenny

Rules and regulations are curtailing the beef price returned to farmers, according to Sinn Fein’s agriculture spokesperson, Martin Kenny.

The Sligo-Leitrim TD called for this to be “re-examined quickly”.

In an exchange with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, in the Dail this week, deputy Kenny outlined that – in the past – an emphasis was placed on reducing the cost to the farmer producing the product.

However, he believes that the emphasis now needs to switch towards improving the price for the farmer.

Irish beef is grass-fed, free-roaming, traceable from farm to fork, and comes from family farms – all of the elements the European consumer wants; yet we consistently find that the price returned to the Irish farmer is little or no better than that returned to the average European farmer.

“That is not right and should not be the case. Something needs to be done to ensure the Irish farmer gets a premium price for what is recognised worldwide as a premium product. In that context, the beef forum has failed Irish farmers in securing an enhanced price,” the Sinn Fein TD said.

Beef Forum

While he shared deputy Kenny’s concerns, Minister Creed reiterated that both his department and the Beef Forum are excluded by law specifically from considering price.

Commenting on the matter, he said: “The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has advised the department that it has no function in that regard.

However, there are many other things that forum can do and achieve – one of which is building such a collaborative approach. I look forward to a day when all the stakeholders will engage in that context.

The problem currently, on which the deputy has touched, is the position of the beef farmer in terms of being a price-taker as a stand-alone supplier.

The minister noted that producer organisations is one avenue that could be explored more in order to give the supplier more power – both in terms of purchasing inputs and negotiating with factories.

‘Specification and supply’

Concluding, deputy Kenny was adamant that rules need to be changed so that a better price can be returned to the primary producer.

We need to look at specification and supply. When I go to buy a piece of roast or some mince, there is nothing on the packaging to state whether it comes from a U-grade or an O-grade or whether the animal was aged 30 months or 35 months.

“The rules and regulations curtail the price that is returned to the farmer and this needs to re-examined quickly,” he said.