I am calling for urgent action by Government and specifically from Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue in the area of the beef Industry.
‘Irish beef finishers are facing catastrophic losses in bringing their product to market at this time. Falling factory gate prices, reduced demand due to continental Covid, rising input prices in fertilizer and meal supplements is driving this presently loss-making sector to the edge. Add to this the ongoing disparity between factory prices in UK and Northern Ireland versus Irish Republic factory prices which can be up to 250 euro less per animal, a situation that has existed for many months and caused the beef factory protests last year”.
‘Beef production has become a marginal business but the present losses being borne by indigenous beef farmers are nothing short of catastrophic. The production environment is dominated by reduced sales prices and increased prices in fertilizer and feedstocks as Chinese demand is pushing up prices Internationally. In addition Irish farmers continue to be hostage to intense bureaucracy and red tape which is causing significant stress to beef farmers – the 2019 BEAM scheme (Beef Exceptional Aid Measure) where farmers were to be supported for low cattle prices required farmers to commit to reductions of output of 5% based on a range of criteria which many farmers are now failing to comply with – this because they do not have timely access to relevant data that the Agriculture Department uses to asses compliance – this means many beef farmers are now facing demands for return of grant aid they received in the last 12- 18 months’.
‘Irish beef is a signature export product and forms the backbone of our agriculture industry along with employment in associated sectors across the whole country. Irish beef farmers are facing European imports of beef from Brazil and Canada which are heavily costs subsidised, coupled wholly inadequate sales prices at factory gates – this is now pitching this sector to the brink of collapse”.
“I am asking Government to introduce a new BEAM scheme for 2021 to support family farms, that Department Agriculture create an IT solution so farmers availing of the scheme can monitor their performance online and ensure compliance. Additionally, I am calling on the Government to consider initiatives to address fertiliser costs and Ireland’s poor performance in providing homegrown feedstock for our beef sector rather than significantly importing grain substitutes”.
“Irish Farming and Irish food production is continuously lauded by Government as one of our most important national economic drivers – it is past time that Government and Department of Agriculture began providing worthwhile actions that actually address the ongoing pricing and production issues for this critical Indigenous manufacturing sector”.