Speaking at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Joe Healy said the ongoing Brexit drama had led to Irish beef farmers incurring costs of €101m since last autumn and that action must be taken to offer support.
“Farmers cannot afford to carry this loss and it must be made good by the Government & EU Commission,” he said. “We have already put this to Minister Creed and we are looking for the support of the Agriculture Committee.”
The Committee was held to discuss the future of the Irish beef sector as the halfway mark of the 10-year FoodWise 2025 strategy approaches. However, Healy said the strategy wasn’t effective, failed to address “the income crisis for beef farmers” and required revisiting.
Healy added that the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and the Government must address the income crisis at farm level, and implement policies that would deliver profitability to beef and livestock farmers.
IFA national livestock chairman Angus Woods said any policies needed to: be based on returning a beef price to farmers above the costs of production; securing a premium price for a quality product; deliver a fairer share of the consumer price back to the farmer; achieve a strong Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with targeted direct payments; and ensure that the European and Irish beef sectors were not undermined with sub-standard South American beef imports.
Woods asked the Committee and the Minister for Agriculture to request the intervention of the Competition & Consumer Protection Commission to carry out a report on the lack of competition in the beef processing sector.
Meanwhile the IFA has commissioned economist Jim Power to conduct an independent investigation into the impact of CAP policy; margins along the food supply chain; the value from all parts of the animal; the possibility of devising a formula for a beef price index; and costs of production at farm level.