Friday, August 10, 2012

Government must assure 40% beef output growth target is realistic – Sinn Féin

The government must step in now and assure Irish beef farmers that the 40% output growth target outlined in the Food Harvest 2020 plan is realistic and achievable. That’s the view of Wexford Sinn Féin Chairperson Oisin O’ Connell who has expressed his organisations concerns following the recent dip in prices for cattle.

“Beef prices fell dramatically in July,” Mr O’ Connell said. “We saw a cut of 30 cent per Kilogram. The cuts witnessed were not down to oversupply as cattle kill is well down on last year’s levels. Instead what we are witnessing are farmers under pressure from the recent bad weather being exploited by the industry.”

“The bad weather conditions this summer has led to devastated grain crops, a weak silage harvest which will have poor feeding value and more expense for grain and ration feed. Many farmers have had to rehouse their herds during the wettest periods of the summer months. What we are already witnessing is a fodder crisis which has left many of County Wexford’s cattle and sheep farmers in a weak position.”

“It is also an unfortunate sign of the times that many farmers have been denied vital credit by their banks and lending institutions. This has meant that many have succumb to soft selling, feeling they have no choice but to agree to low prices.”

“Many meat plants have taken the opportunity to boost their profits at the expense of struggling farmers. These cuts cannot be justified. They have not been repeated on the continent and indeed prices in our main market, the UK, are actually higher than here. It seems that many meat factories lack a commitment to the figures laid out in Food Harvest 2020 and indeed to the sustainability of Irish Beef farming.”

“The Food Harvest 2020 plan, which the government has prioritised, demands the expansion of our beef output by 40% over the next eight years. This will be impossible unless the government moves to assure farmers that this target is realistic and achievable. To do this they must give farmers confidence by intervening to protect beef prices and putting a firm halt to any possible meat factory exploitation.”

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