At a meeting with the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney in Dublin today IFA President Eddie Downey made it very clear that livestock farmers are angry and frustrated over the way their incomes have been cut this year by price and specification cuts. Eddie Downey said “The Minister said he fully understands the anger of livestock farmers over what has happened in the beef sector and he is working hard to bring forward solutions.”
Eddie Downey said the Minister outlined that he will get directly involved and will play a central role in discussions between factories and farmers to resolve the current problems. The Minister said he expects the processing industry to respond positively to the key issues around the Quality Payment System and specifications to suit the Irish beef sector.
The IFA President said the Minister and the Department is due to meet with the IFA again next week. Eddie Downey said IFA is demanding urgent progress and this process must deliver real results for livestock farmers.
Eddie Downey said the Minister was clear that beef markets are strengthening and prices in the UK and across the EU are recovering.
The IFA President said the Minister must insist that the factories respect the agreement they entered into with farmers on the price grid under the Quality Payment System. It is essential that the unfair specifications cuts on dual pricing, weights, age and breeds that were never part of the QPS are removed. Eddie Downey made it very clear that weight limits are a major problem for the suckler herd and the Irish beef sector. He said progress here is essential to restoring trust and confidence.
IFA National Livestock Chairman, Henry Burns said it is vital that the Minister and Bord Bia fight back against the unfair specification cuts, which are extremely damaging to the Irish beef sector and our top quality grass based beef production systems.
Henry Burns said Minister Coveney told the IFA he is meeting Tesco today to progress a solution to the Northern Ireland branding issue. The IFA Livestock leader said the Minister has to remove the roadblocks impeding the live export trade to our nearest market in North. He said IFA has worked hard to progress branding solutions on this issue and these have now been approved by the Department of Agriculture in the North. Ministers Simon Coveney and his colleague in Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill must resolve this problem.
Henry Burns said Minister Coveney said an active live export trade is essential for competition in the beef sector and with the increase in the dairy herd, this trade will be very important to export more dairy calves.