The Beef Plan movement held its third annual general meeting on Tuesday 19 December where just over 30 farmers attended an online meeting.

Chair Eamon Corley outlined how the purchasing group within the organisation is going from strength to strength. The group facilitated the import of 89 artic load of fertiliser in 2023.

Corley said: “Huge questions have to be answered from merchants and the margins they are taking when we were able to save farmers over €300/t in sourcing fertiliser from the UK through an NI importer.”

Corley also said their current fuel deal is saving farmers €40 on every 1,000 gallons of fuel purchased.

Cattle trade

Emerald Isle Beef Producers - the producer group arm of the Beef plan movement - has processed 5,000 cattle in 2023, a similar number to 2022. The group has a number of different outlets set up for different types of cattle, with Foyle Meats being the outlet for in-spec cattle.

In autumn 2023, the group got commitments from members for 14,000 finished cattle to allow Beef Plan to look for a contract to sell these animals.

“We assembled the cattle with a view to selling them to an Irish processor, but a meat trader with connections to Algeria approached us and we were able to agree a very good price with them.

"The beef is Halal-certified beef and we have currently sold four containers of beef - two have been shipped to Paris, one to Brussels and one to London."


Micheal Phiblin gave an overview of the association’s accounts. The association had €18,199 cash on hand at the beginning of 2022 and this had grown to €52,648 at the end of 2022.

The discussion then moved to the recent changes to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) indices.

Emanuel O'Dea, a Beef Plan director, gave an overview of the changes and how he thinks it will affect the suckler industry.

“At the base of all this is a huge communication problem within [the] ICBF. We have to get a suspension on the current changes until we get a full independent audit on the figures.

"When you see a Dexter coming out above continental animals, there is something fundamentally wrong with the way an index is made up. The purpose of the ICBF index is to compare across breeds, so it’s a bit of a cop-out now to see [the] ICBF talk about picking breeds first then look at the index.”

O'Dea went on to tell the farmers present that if farmers follow the current direction of the ICBF, farmers will be taking less money for their weanlings just to tick the boxes for the scheme.

“I’m not convinced we won’t see a lot of money clawed back in years four and five of SCEP if farmers don’t hit their targets.

"A lot of people don’t realise how badly affected they are - farmers need to look at the latest ICBF reports to see where they currently stand.

"The problem is that people have enough stars at the moment, but may not be able to breed enough replacements in the future,” he said.

Regulator board

Eamon Corley closed the meeting by expressing his disappointment at the people who have been nominated to the new Agri-Food Regulator board.

“Back in 2019 when Beef Plan suggested the idea of a food regulator, some of these people actually shot it down, so it was a bit like rubbing salt in a wound to see them appointed to this body. Ordinary farmers on the ground wouldn’t have a lot of confidence in the people selected,” he said.

Corley finished the meeting by saying: “The Beef Plan association were given an undertaking that when we had three annual general meetings that we would be officially recognised as a farm organisation by the Minister of Agriculture. We will now write to the Minister to make sure this happens.”