Farmers have been left “high and dry” by the Beef Market Taskforce, which has not met since December last year despite tumbling beef prices.
Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) beef chair Edmund Graham said farmers wanted answers as to why prices were “inexplicably cut” in recent weeks.
“We are still in the middle of a global pandemic and farmers are also still feeling the wrath of Brexit. It is inexcusable that we are being left in the dark at what continues to be a perilous time, and when the livelihoods of so many beef farmers are hanging in the balance,” he said.
Graham insists that all members of the taskforce should be answerable to one another.
“As issues arise and beef farmers are looking for answers and guidance, it’s just not good enough that certain members of the taskforce can simply run for cover and get away with being answerable to no one,” he said.
The ICSA has called on Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to give all stakeholders the ability to convene a meeting of the taskforce. He said the pace of the group’s work to date had been far too slow and farm organisations should have scope to compel it to meet.
“Farmers and their representatives are being left to stew until it suits the other various stakeholders to meet,” Graham said.
“Right now, we do not know when that could even happen, or even if it is the taskforce chair Michael Dowling, the Department or the meat industry calling the shots at this point,”
“Ultimately, the buck stops with the Minister, and he must bring the necessary protocols to bear and call the situation to order. The taskforce is supposed to be a partnership, it’s about time it started operating like one.”