‘Taskforce must deliver fair base price for beef’ – Coughlan

“Today’s inaugural meeting of the Beef Market Taskforce must immediately deliver a fair base price for beef,” according to Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) presidential candidate, John Coughlan.

The Co. Cork beef, dairy and tillage farmer also said the taskforce must “address the meat industry’s failure to honour the Irish Beef Sector Agreement of September 15″.

He said: “Irish beef farmers have lost a staggering €60 million to date due to the meat industry’s failure to honour their commitments within the Beef Sector Agreement which led to beef farmers removing their pickets from factory gates.

Farmers are set to lose another €20 million by the end of the year if the taskforce does not hold beef factories to account.

Coughlan claims the fundamental objective of the taskforce is to secure fair prices for hard-working farm families.

Coughlan set out seven key actions which he said are key to the future of Ireland’s beef industry and the success of the taskforce.

According to Coughlan, the Beef Market Taskforce needs to:
  • Agree a plan of action with realistic and tangible outputs and an implementation timeline of 12 months, supervised by the taskforce chair, Michael Dowling;
  • Introduce a forward-pricing contract between farmers and beef factories, which provides an option for farmers to enter into a contract guaranteeing supply;
  • Review the EU’s grading system which is now over 40 years old and consider in full moving to a meat yield classification system;
  • Introduce a mechanism to ensure full-margin transparency on all parts of the supply chain, particularly for processors and retailers as non-publication of Irish accounts is fueling the lack of transparency;
  • Develop a centralised and real-time reporting process for factory and mart prices, to allow farmers to make decisions based on independent and transparent information;
  • Introduce a processing bonus for all farmers on quality assurance farms, irrespective of factory grading;
  • Involve all parties, including retail, central to Ireland’s beef industry and the presence and leadership of Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed.

Continuing, Coughlan said: “Irish beef farmers have placed huge trust in the group’s commitment to ensure the implementation of the Irish Beef Sector Agreement reached at September’s beef talks that brought an end to over two months of farmer protests at beef factories across the country.

Any failure to progress tangible solutions for beef farmers will return farmers to the picket line and lead to further protests in Dublin as we approach the Christmas period.

“It is an utter disgrace that the taskforce’s failure to hold the meat industry to account on the agreement of September 15 has resulted in a loss of €60 million for Irish beef farmers.

“The taskforce has 20 days to save beef farmers from losing a further €20 million.”

We need to work together to progressively and collaboratively achieve these and to secure the future and livelihood of over 75,000 farmers and families who are depending on the success of this taskforce. Failure is not an option,” he concluded.