Reacting to the publication of the Joint Oireachtas Committee report on the future of the beef sector, IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said the report was a mixed bag, with some positive recommendations and some missed opportunities to address the income crisis in the sector.
Angus Woods said in the detailed submission made by IFA, we made it very clear to the Committee that the ‘single biggest challenge in the beef sector is the income crisis at farm level’.
Welcoming the stance of the Committee on their opposition to the EU-Mercosur deal, Angus Woods said with the developments in Brussels this week, Committee members must make it crystal clear at this stage they will vote down a Mercosur deal with beef in it, when it comes before the Dail.
He called on members of the Committee to make it clear to the Taoiseach and Minister Creed today that a Mercosur deal will not get through the Dail.
In relation to the lack of competition in the beef sector, Angus Woods said its disappointing that the Committee failed to call on Minister Creed to direct the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to investigate the sector.
Angus Woods said the absence of any recommendation on the need for increased support for the important suckler cow herd is a missed opportunity, considering that all the political parties have indicated their support for sucklers.
On CAP, Angus Woods said the Agriculture Committee needs to make it clear to Minister Creed and the Government that under no circumstances can a cut in the CAP Budget be tolerated. “CAP direct payments are vital for the beef and livestock sector and farmers need an increase in the CAP Budget.”
On Brexit, Angus Woods said the facts are beef is more exposed than any other sector and we cannot face another cliff edge in October. He said farmers are facing the third year of Brexit uncertainty and bad prices, and it is totally unfair that farmers are expected to carry all the risks
Angus Woods welcomed the recommendation in the report on the need for additional support for the live export trade, which he said is essential for price competition and additional market outlets.
In relation to the QPS and grading, the IFA livestock leader said it is essential that farmers are properly rewarded for quality production. He said IFA has made specific proposals for a suckler beef price premium. He added the Minister for Agriculture must guarantee that farmers are getting the correct grade for their cattle in the meat plants.