‘We have been left high and dry’: Farmers call for taskforce to convene

A meeting of the Beef Market Taskforce has been called for as soon as possible by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

Making the call, ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham described the pace of progress made by the taskforce as “far too slow” and called for greater scope for farm organisations to “compel the taskforce to meet”.

“Beef prices have been inexplicably cut in recent weeks and ICSA wants answers as to why this is happening,” he said.

Unfortunately, we have been left high and dry by the Beef Market Taskforce which has not met since December of last year. We are still in the middle of a global pandemic and farmers are also still feeling the wrath of Brexit.

“It is inexcusable that we are being left in the dark at what continues to be a perilous time, and when the livelihoods of so many beef farmers are hanging in the balance.”

The chairman said stakeholders at the taskforce should be answerable to one another, adding that all stakeholders “must have the ability to convene the taskforce”.

He also outlined his belief that Minister McConalogue “has a duty” to introduce such a protocol.

“As issues arise and beef farmers are looking for answers and guidance, it’s just not good enough that certain members of the taskforce can simply run for cover and get away with being answerable to no one,” he said.

Farmers and their representatives are being left to stew until it suits the other various stakeholders to meet.

“Right now, we do not know when that could even happen, or even if it is the chair Michael Dowling, the department or the meat industry calling the shots at this point,” the chairman claimed.

“Ultimately, the buck stops with the minister – and he must bring the necessary protocols to bear and call the situation to order. The taskforce is supposed to be a partnership, it’s about time it started operating like one,” Graham concluded.