Healy made the comments when he and members of the National Council of the IFA handed letters of protest to Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed over the perceived “failure of meat factories to increase beef prices and breaches of the Beef sector agreement”.
“Talking to factory agents over the weekend, it’s clear that the factories intend there to be little or no price increases again this week. This is unacceptable,” said Healy.
He said that the new Beef Price tracker indices published last week by Bord Bia show that Irish beef farmers are due a price increase, with Irish beef prices now 17c behind the Bord Bia Prime Export Benchmark price.
“Beef prices in our main export market in the UK have turned the corner and are rising. In addition, sterling has strengthened considerably in recent weeks. UK cattle prices are at the equivalent of €4.07/kg incl. vat., which is 45c/kg or €162 per head more than Irish prices, which are stuck at €3.62/kg incl. vat.
This comes less than three months after the IFA, MII and lobby group Beef Plan Movement agreed to end the protests by farmers at beef processing facilities over their share of prices compared to retail prices. Healy said that the agreement has not been held up by processors.
“An agreement was reached between farmers, MII and Minister Creed on 15 September last. One of the objectives of the agreement was to improve trust between factories and farmers. Since then, the factories have introduced severe weight penalties, kept legal threats in place and now the Irish beef price is lagging behind other countries. Relations between factories and farmers have actually worsened since September 15th and the Minister has sided with the factories by accepting their petty explanation for keeping legal threats in place,” he said.
“The agreement brokered in September commits all parties to bringing disputes to the Beef Taskforce before they are escalated. As the Beef Taskforce has not been able to meet, due to the failure to lift all legal threats against farmers, we are putting Meat Industry Ireland and the Minister on notice that farmers have had enough of the carry on by the meat factories. We need a significant price increase now and we need the Minister Creed and the Government, who provide support the meat industry in multiple ways, to tell the factories to cop themselves on.”
In response to the comments by Healy, Minister Creed took to social media to defend the progress made on the issue.
Some political commentary regarding the Beef Market Taskforce. Firstly the Taskforce itself was first proposed by us in the @agriculture_ie team during the negotiations. I want to see it up and running. Getting all parties back to the table constructively is challenging.— Michael Creed TD (@creedcnw) November 25, 2019