IFA President Joe Healy has said the very serious competition issues raised in the independent report commissioned by the IFA on the proposed ABP/Slaney Meats deal cannot be ignored by the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and the Government.
Joe Healy said the proposed deal was formally submitted to DG Competition this week. He said IFA has been in contact again with Brussels and requested DG Competition to formally involve the Competition and Consumer Commission (CCPC) in Ireland and the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) in the UK to ensure all competition issues raised are fully investigated and addressed.
Joe Healy said he has also written to Isolde Goggin, Chairperson of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) in Ireland requesting that the CCPC seek a referral of the case to Ireland so as the fundamental competition issues around the purchase of cattle in Ireland are fully investigated.
The IFA President said the main conclusion of the report is that the primary procurement market for farmers selling cattle in Ireland to the meat factories is characterised by weak competition and the proposed deal is likely to weaken competition even further, through a ‘substantial lessening of competition’ (SLC). He said the report outlines that the chief concern over the proposed transaction is that it would make coordinated effects in the relevant markets more likely.
“This report is very clear on the competition concerns in the beef sector, the income pressures that exist for livestock producers and the impact that any weakening of competition would have on their livelihoods.”
Joe Healy said farmers are already very concerned about the lack of competition in the beef sector and this report on the proposed ABP/Slaney deal will heighten their fears.
IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said, “Competition in the beef and lamb trade is always a contentious issue between farmers and factories. The Minister and the relevant authorities must be able to guarantee farmers that there is maximum competition operating in the market”. He said the report also highlights the necessity for DG Competition to examine the competition issues around rendering and factory feedlot cattle as well as the processors’ relationships with retailers.