Feeley calls for Emergency Action on Beef Crisis

John Paul Feeley was one of thirty Fianna Fáil Councillors from across Connacht and Ulster meeting earlier thisweek to discuss the beef crisis who agreed to call on Minister Simon Coveney to immediately take measures to address the falling price of cattle. The meeting was also attended by Fianna Fáil Agriculture Spokespersons Éamon Ó Cuív TD and Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill as well as representatives from local marts. The most immediate issue that needs to be tackled include the barriers to the North/South trade of cattle inhibiting Northern buyers from purchasing Southern cattle. This is a direct consequence of labeling restrictions and has resulted in a situation where beef from cattle reared in the South and finished in the North can neither be labelled as of Irish or British origins on supermarket shelves. The Dowling Report published recently clearly outlines that this issue can be resolved if there is the political will. The Councillors are calling on Minister Coveney and his Northern counterpart, Minister O’Neill to sit down urgently and resolve the issue. If the matter is not addressed by early September when most farmers bring there animals to the market, the present low prices will plummet. While recognising the importance of the factory kill, the Councillors believe that a functioning live trade is vital to ensure competition in the market. The Councillors identified a number of barriers to this trade and called on the Minister to ensure the smooth operation of the live trade market. The Councillors also called on An Bord Bia to engage actively in sourcing new markets for live animals while also developing existing markets. A new steering group has been established to work on these issues. The group will meet with mart representatives, live exporters and Northern buyers in the coming weeks. In the longer term, there is a need to ensure the proper functioning of the live trade market as our largest food export and to ensure a fair balance between retailers, processors and farmers to protect the future of the family farm in Ireland. -ENDS- Note to editor: The Dowling Report publishes in June 2014 by the Department of Agriculture on the Beef Sector in general highlighted the importance of the live trade as an integral part of the beef sector. It found that 90% of suckler cow farmers have 40 or less sucker cows and 66% have 20 or less suckler cows