Addressing the IFA protest outside the Beef Forum today (Wed), IFA President Joe Healy said Minister Creed must stop telling everyone what he cannot do and act now to save beef farmers.
“Under the Minister’s Chairmanship, the Forum has become a mudguard for inaction. It isn’t even a talking shop. Recent meetings have become ‘death by powerpoint’ as farmers get presentation after presentation designed to run down the clock. There is no real engagement on the key issues,” he said.
Joe Healy said “The Minister hasn’t lifted a finger while the factories have robbed farmers by systematically cutting cattle prices. At the same time, prices to farmers are rising in our main export market in the UK.”
He said that while Minister Creed was trying to wash his hands in relation to beef prices he has no excuse next Tuesday in the Budget. He must show beef farmers that he is on their side by providing additional support for the Suckler sector.
“Budget Day will be the acid test for Minister Creed. Beef Farmers will judge him on what he delivers for sucklers.”
“We’ve had enough of the Minister’s ‘can’t do it, won’t do it’ approach. It won’t wash with farmers. It’s time for action, it’s time for delivery. Next Tuesday is D-Day”.
IFA Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said farmers are furious with the Minister’s indifference to the income crisis on livestock farms. “We asked the Minister to tackle the factories when they took advantage of farmers on cattle prices during the drought. We presented a detailed report to him at the Tullamore Show on sucklers, which shows that a 10% reduction in suckler cow numbers will hit economic output in rural areas by €305m”.
Angus Woods said Minister Creed needs to be the Minister for Agriculture and to stand up for farmers, and not be the Minister for factories. “Minister Creed seems to be fixated on driving beef exports, with the gains going to the factories on the back of loss-making prices to farmers.”
He said the income pressure on cattle farms was at breaking point, following the severe weather conditions all year and the massive increase in costs. He said the way the factories have cut prices over recent weeks is ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’. The Teagasc National Farm survey data shows that for 2017, the average income on cattle rearing farms was only €12,529.
Angus Woods said “Factories have torn the hell out of prices and forced them down well below the cost of production. This also eroded confidence in the market place and wrecked the mart price for weanlings and stores. Prices in our main export market in the UK are rising, up 20p/kg in recent weeks”.