The beef sector is in crisis and cattle have to be moved out of the country to help it, Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill has told the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed.
He told the Dáil this week that as a former board member of Bord Bia, he said when a market opened when he sat on the board, a target was set in respect of the tonnage of beef expected to be sold in any given time frame.
“The beef sector is in crisis. We have to move cattle out of this country.
"To secure increased prices, we will have to reduce the number of cattle available for slaughter in the next six to 12 months.
“The onus is on Bord Bia to set a target for the number of live cattle it expects to be moved.
"My concern is that insufficient resources are being put in place to establish markets.
They [live exports] are not getting a fair crack of the whip in terms of resources from Bord Bia
“Factories are good at utilising Bord Bia, which is as it should be.
"We have worked hard to secure routes to markets in various parts of the EU and across the world.
"However, I am concerned that there is not a similar emphasis on live exports. They are not getting a fair crack of the whip in terms of resources from Bord Bia,” he said.
Cahill said that there is more stock in the country, but there is no competition at the ringside.
“Competition will only come through live exports.
"I would like to know the level of resources Bord Bia is putting into live exports.
“I reiterate the need for a target in respect of the number of cattle expected to be exported live in the remainder of 2019,” he said.
In response to Cahill, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said that he “fundamentally” disagreed with Cahill.
“If a State agency or the Department sets a target, then we are chasing a target and the accusation will be that we are compromising on welfare. There will be no compromise on welfare standards.
“The Department and Bord Bia have adequate resources. We have significantly increased the resources available to Bord Bia in recent years to deal with the Brexit challenge and various opportunities.
“The market access unit of my Department is making significant progress in restructuring its endeavours in respect of processed beef and live exports,” he said.
The Minister also said it would be wrong to set a target for live exports because that would leave Ireland open to the charge that it is chasing targets at the expense of standards.
“There will be no diminution of standards on live exports,” he said.
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