IFA Livestock Chairman Angus Woods led an IFA delegation with senior officials in the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) in Dublin this week.
Angus Woods told the CCPC Director of Mergers that farmers do not believe that there is adequate price competition in the beef sector.
He made it very clear to the CCPC that it is their responsibility to guarantee robust competition in the beef processing sector. “Farmers have seen no evidence from the CCPC that they are prepared to take any action to tackle the competition issue at processing level,” he said.
Angus Woods said the recent developments on mergers in the beef and sheep sectors raise serious concerns for farmers about price competition and increasing the power of processors.
The Authority is currently considering the merger between Dawn and Dunbia and IFA was meeting the Authority on this matter and the broader issues around the lack of competition and transparency in the beef sector.
Angus Woods said, “It is the responsibility of the CCPC to carry out a proper and full investigation into this merger and to publish the outcome so that farmers can see what investigative work was carried out and what rationale they use to arrive at their decisions”.
He told the CCPC that studies conducted by independent competition consultants point to a strong body of evidence that competition in the primary procurement markets for cattle is weak and that he said that additional mergers were likely to weaken competition even further.
Angus Woods said the lack of transparency around market returns, wholesale prices and profits across the meat chain from processing right through to retail level is unacceptable and impedes competition.
He called for action at national and EU level to address this issue and pointed to the clear and robust system of transparency in place in the USA. Under legislation introduced in the USA, meat processors are required to report wholesale prices and stocks twice each day across all beef cuts sold.