Following the conclusion of recent beef crisis talks, which Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, confirmed late last night, August 20, had concluded successfully, many industry representatives have been sharing their views of the agreement.
ICSA president, Edmond Phelan, described the conclusion of talks a “frustrating end” and says he is disappointed that no additional money will be put in farmers pockets as a result of the beef talks.
He stated: “While the in-spec bonus has been widened to include 4+ fat scores, the inclusion of O- grades will benefit the big feedlots most and do nothing to improve the lot of suckler farmers producing the top- quality cattle,”
Speaking following the conclusion of talks Mr Phelan said, “Our hands were tied regarding price from the outset.
“We could negotiate, but not on price, and when price is the only thing that really matters, that was problematic,” he said.
Mr Phelan noted that while some progress was made and agreements were reached on a range of issues, none will have the sort of impact required to make the difference needed.
“Our efforts will now move the review of the grid which is scheduled to be completed by the end of September. The priority must be to reconfigure the grid in such a way that it gives better bonuses to U and R+ grades without further deductions on lower grade cattle.” he said.
Continuing he said: “A commitment was also given to improving market transparency and this must proceed with haste. The promised transposition of the EU Directive on Unfair Trading Practices is an important step on the road in curtailing the greedy practices and excessive profiteering at retail level.
“However, we need to follow this with legislation to audit the whole retail chain and discern whether there is a fair share of margins allocated to all parts of the chain.”
Speaking on the way out of the marathon beef talks the President of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association( INHFA) Colm O’Donnell stated that the future of sustainable beef farming in Ireland will depend on the implementation of the INHFA 10 point plan".
Summing up the farm leader stated that: "The most important message coming from the beef stakeholder talks was that the Minister and his team have established a genuine forum of inclusivity for future serious Agricultural sector issues that may arise.”
In contrast to these views was a statement from Meat Industry Ireland (MII), who voiced their pleasure that an agreement had been reached. They described the agreement reached as a step forward for the sector.
An official statement read: “Progress has been made on a significant number of points and we welcome the agreement reached this morning (Wednesday 21st August).
“It is recognised however that the current very weak beef market and the consequential knock-on impact on producer beef prices remains a major pressure point in the sector.
In the course of these difficult negotiations, MII, on behalf of processor members, has worked to find positive outcomes on many of the issues tabled.”
MII state that they believe that the agreement represents the best interests of the entire sector.
They stated: “As we face the mounting danger of a No-Deal Brexit, the reality is that we need to do everything possible to hold our position in the UK market.
“MII expresses its gratitude to Minister Creed and the independent chair, Michael Dowling and their officials for guiding these talks to a successful conclusion.”
Beef Plan movement have issued a statement on the conclusion of talks, saying the agreements only represent a small step forward for the sector.