A public meeting to address the beef crisis, organised by the IFA was held in Castlerea last Thursday night.
The event heard that farmers were slowly being driven out of dry stock farming because there was no longer any money to be made from it.
The meeting, which was attended by hundreds of people from Longford, Leitrim, Roscommon and Galway centred on the beef crisis, and farmers’ frustrations at the lack of progress in resolving the issue.
Local IFA chairman, Andrew McHugh warned it was the local economy that would suffer the most as a direct result of the beef crisis.
“Farmers are absolutely at the end of their tedder,” he explained, adding, “the reality is that both the processors and the retailers are enjoying greater margins than this time last year”.
He went on to add, “In Longford there are one third less suckler cows going this year to calve than there were three years ago. Farmers are getting less and less and the reality is that all of this is going to have a detrimental knock on effect to the local economy.”
IFA President, Eddie Downey then pointed out that Teagasc has confirmed that livestock farmers’ incomes were down by 13%-22% in the last year, ranging from €9,469 to €15,595.
“With beef prices in our main markets in the UK and across Europe now stabilised and recovering, it’s time the processors started to secure prices from the market place that restored viability and confidence to the sector,” he added.
Local MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan also spoke on the night. He told those in attendance that all hell would break loose if certain farm deals went ahead.
“In the last 24 hours in the Agricultural Committee in Europe, I sat and listened to a presentation on the potential effects of TTIP which is an agreement that is being negotiated between the EU and the US at the moment,” he explained. “It was made quite clear by the people who presented to us that Ireland would be one of the most negatively affected. While now they might say it’s disastrous for Irish farming and disastrous for the suckler area and disastrous for beef, the scales may very well be tipped in favour of multinationals rather than Ireland’s beef industry. If you think you have a problem now, ye have hell on the way if this happens.”
Farmers from the region also held a protest outside Lidl and Mcdonalds last week in an effort to highlight the negative impact beef prices were having on their livelihoods.