IFA Livestock farmers from around the country are holding a sit-in protest in the offices of the Minister for Agriculture in Dublin over the refusal of Minister Creed to name the meat factories found guilty of excessively trimming carcases. In addition, the IFA also called on Minister Creed to reject new proposals that could put further restrictions on the important live export trade.
IFA President Joe Healy said, “By refusing to name the offenders involved, Minister Creed is protecting the factories. This is a cover up and it must be exposed.”
Joe Healy said the statement by Minister Creed to the Dail last week on the factories caught over-trimming carcasses was pathetic and failed utterly to recognise the gravity of the issue.
The IFA President said moves by the EU Commission to restrict the vitally important live export trade could have devastating consequences for the cattle trade and price competition. He said, “Minister Creed must reject outright this attempt to tighten the noose on the live trade. This might suit the factories but live exports are critical in providing increased price competition to counteract the cartel like behaviour of meat factories.”
Under new EU rules it is proposed to cut the assembly period for exporters from the current 29 days to only 14 days. Joe Healy said this could have devastating consequences for our important live export trade and must be rejected.
“The Minister must face down the EU bureaucrats and tell them that this change will not be accepted by Ireland. As an island nation we already have additional challenges to get cattle to the continent.”
IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said, “What the factories were found out doing were not ‘mistakes’ as the Minister called them, they are offences under the law. Farmers certainly should be repaid as the Minister ‘understands’ the factories have now apparently ‘accepted’. This pathetic response from the Minister and factories shows contempt for farmers.”
Angus Woods said, “The Minister should stop covering up for the factories and publish the names of the offenders immediately. While the current inspection regime maybe changing in the New Year, the €200 fine currently in place is derisory and is not a sufficient deterrent. The Minister needs to impose much bigger fines and have a policy of naming and shaming all offenders.”
“The Minister needs to come out from under the shadow of the factories and move immediately to name the 19 offenders for this year and the 28 offenders from 2016. It is totally unacceptable that this information is being covered up,” he said.
“In addition, it is baffling that the Department inspections would find 28 offences in 2016 and 19 so far in 2018, but he has reported that no violations were found in 2017 or 2015. The Minister needs to tell us how this can be explained,” he said.
The IFA Livestock Chairman said the factories have been lobbying hard against any change by the Department on monitoring of carcase trim for some time as it is clear the current unsatisfactory set up suits them, and not farmers.
“The time for cosy chats with the factories is over. The Minister needs to ensure that the new inspection system is up and running and that all carcasses are being properly monitored by the Department,” he said.
Angus Woods said, “It is not acceptable that the Department are only proposing to monitor 5% of carcases on the line. It is the Ministers responsibility to ensure that farmers are paid the full value for their stock and this means that the carcase classification, carcase trim and weights must be 100% accurate all of the time. There is no room for error on this. This means constant monitoring of all the carcase before the scales by the Department and not just looking at a sample of carcases.”
In addition, he demanded that Minister Creed adopt a “name and shame policy” with the details put up on the Department website on a monthly basis.