Beef farmers paid €9m less than in UK, says ICMSA

Minister for Agriculture speaks to meat producers to discuss concerns

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney met representatives of Meat Industry Ireland, the Ibec body representing meat processors, last night. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney met representatives of Meat Industry Ireland, the Ibec body representing meat processors, last night. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

 

Beef producers have seen cattle prices drop by an average of €200 per animal in recent months.

ICMSA livestock chairman Michael Guinan said €6 million was lost on the sale of bullocks, while losses on heifers were €3 million. Beef producers were under enormous financial pressure and it was unacceptable the price gap between Irish and UK continued to increase.

Mr Guinan said the only possible explanation was that Irish processors and retailers were taking more of Irish farmers’ margins than their UK counterparts.

“It is perfectly obvious that squeeze being inflicted by the processors and retailers on their farmer-suppliers is actually getting worse, and the Minister has a clear responsibility to address this continuing market-manipulation and margin-stripping.” .

The Irish Farmers’ Association is continuing protests outside multinational supermarkets to highlight farmers’ grievances about falling prices. Tesco in Naas, Lidl in Ballinasloe and Aldi in Mitchelstown have already been targeted, and more protests are expected in the coming days.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney met representatives of Meat Industry Ireland, the Ibec body representing meat processors, last night.

Speaking before the meeting he repeated his call for flexibility from factories on issues such as animal weights and other specifications.

Older and heavier animals are increasingly being rejected by factories, who say retailers prefer younger and lighter animals.

Mr Coveney said farmers needed time to respond to changing market requirements.

l Vietnam has opened its market to Irish pigmeat. Five Irish pig-processing establishments have been accredited to produce pork for export, while a sixth establishment had been approved for cutting.

This follows last month’s agreement with the Philippines to open its market to Irish beef, sheep meat and pork.

Over the last 18 months market access has been gained for Irish beef to the US and Japan, while Lebanon has opened its market to beef, sheep meat and cooked meats. Namibia has opened its market to Irish beef and sheep meat, while Hong Kong has opened its market to sheep meat.