ICSA national president Patrick Kent has said, “The Government must be forthcoming with details of the emergency aid it intends to seek for the beef sector from the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit.”
Mr Kent was addressing Minister Michael Creed and members of the ICSA National Executive at ICSA’s AGM and Annual Conference in Portlaoise.
Beef on the Brink formed the theme of the conference and Mr Kent focused on the need for clarity on the nature and scope of the emergency aid that can be expected should a no-deal Brexit come to pass.
“Market panic has already impacted the price of beef and we cannot allow this uncertainty to continue. Farmers have been operating in a vacuum while factories have been taking advantage,” he said.
Mr Kent called on the Minister for a “backstop for beef.”
He said ICSA supports the call for emergency EU measures to take out our surplus beef via intervention or aids to private storage but the lack of clarity is causing panic around what price beef will be in 2019.
“We need a commitment to put a realistic floor under the price of beef with a trigger price that ensures that current prices cannot be allowed to fall any further.”
Mr Kent said the days of supermarkets and processors exploiting farmers based on false costs of production must also end. He said a recent assessment of the cost of production per kg of beef shows the average cost to be in the range of €5 to €5.30.
“These figures bring a sense of reality to the discussion by including a rate for the farmer’s labour. There is no other industry where the cost of production ignores basic labour costs and we will no longer countenance Teagasc pontificating on the cost of production unless they have included the cost of farmers’ own labour.”
Mr Kent said he was pleased to see that the Department has finally taken action on the issue of carcass trim supervision. He said however that, “Now it is also time to ensure the exact same scrutiny in sheep meat plants. ICSA has raised concerns that there are different kill out rates being reported in different sheep factories and we need the same Department scrutiny for the sheep sector as the beef sector.”
Mr Kent welcomed the publication of an organic strategy highlighted the need for a much more ambitious strategy to better market our organic meats and capitalise much more on the potential.
He said ICSA is fully opposed to making the TB history available on mart boards and will remain committed to this position at the TB stakeholder forum.
Mr Kent reiterated the association’s stance that a stronger line on rural crime is needed and that the Government get to grips with escalating insurance costs which is a real problem for all businesses including farmers and marts.