On the announcement by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney that he is to hold a high-level meeting on the beef crisis on April 17th, IFA President Eddie Downey said this time round Minister Coveney must put the incomes of livestock farmers centre stage.
He said the Minister must take full charge, reject the unworkable weight limits and other specification cuts from the factories and ensure the real difficulties that have plagued the beef sector over the last year are properly resolved.
Eddie Downey said viable beef prices, competition, live exports, market access, contracts, production costs, maintaining the suckler herd and a range of other issues must be addressed by the Minister as part of this process.
He said the proposals from the factories to impose weight limits and other cuts would exclude 80% of steers and bulls and 60% of heifers, and they are unviable and unacceptable.
He said with their proposals on weights and specifications, the factories seem intent of totally undermining the Quality Payment System and the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme at farm level. He said this would be a real backward step for the beef sector.
The IFA President said, “The Minister must meet his counterpart from Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill as part of his visit to Northern Ireland this week. In the context of the State visit to the UK, it is an opportunity for Minister Coveney to push for more open trade between here and our largest market. We have the capacity to feed the growing population in the UK over the next ten years and the Minister must make a strong case for proper market access and restore the vital live export trade to the North and the UK”.