Tractor protest group calls out ‘lack of taskforce progress’ after ‘beef price collapse’

A lack of progress from the Beef Market Taskforce has been strongly criticised by one farm group – which highlighted that the taskforce has yet to meet in 2021 – in spite of a “collapse in beef price”.

The Individual Farmers of Ireland is the group that organised the tractor demonstration protests in Dublin in December 2019 and January 2020, taking to the streets of the capital over beef prices at the time.

Individual Farmers protest group spokesperson James Geoghegan commented on the matter, claiming:

“Farmers are frustrated by the lack of progress the beef taskforce meetings have achieved. It still hasn’t had a meeting this year even after the collapse in beef prices.

15 months on [from its first meeting] and the taskforce only met six times in 2020 – and two of these meetings were to push through the PGI [Protected Geographical Indication] status application to Europe.

“The recent drop in beef prices is a disaster for beef finishers, while at the same time beef prices have gone up in our biggest market the UK.”

Noting reports that steer prices are now averaging €200 per head more in Northern Ireland than in the south for the “same spec animal”, Geoghegan claimed that Irish factories “all have different markets” for their beef from domestic markets to the UK and Europe.

“We want answers as to how 16 meat factories all dropped their prices on the same day to the identical same price of €3.70/kg,” he said.

“We got several TDs including Michael Fitzmaurice and Michael McNamara to ask Minister McConalogue in the Dail questions on Wednesday about the taskforce and why it is not working.

We need it working and we need it working now – not being kicked down the road for any excuse. It’s clear that the factories do not want it to work but it’s the minister’s job to make it work for farmers.

“We have three demands: one is to get the taskforce to meet immediately; two is to set a date for it to meet once a month; and three for it to be screened live for farmers to see who is working for them or against them in these meetings,” the spokesperson claimed.

“The days of farmers being treated disgracefully are over; we want action and we need it now – and we’re not taking no for an answer,” Geoghegan concluded.