The Beef Market Taskforce, formed in the wake of factory protests in 2019, is facing an uncertain future as its programme of work nears completion.
The taskforce was set up to oversee the beef sector agreement, which contained 38 specific actions.
Of these 38 actions, 30 were actions which had timelines attached and the remaining eight are ongoing actions.
Taskforce chair Michael Dowling said its work was now largely complete, with a small number of outstanding points that will be addressed shortly.
Beef sector group
Dowling told the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee that he did not see a long-term life for the taskforce as it currently stands.
He suggested that it should be replaced by a beef consultative group, with a new remit that would oversee the future strategy for the sector.
He added that, ultimately, it was a decision for the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and his officials to make.
Dowling is finalising a report on the work of the taskforce to send to the Minister, at which point a decision on its future is likely to be made.
Politicians quizzed the taskforce’s chair and Department officials on the achievements of the taskforce to date, with price, specifications and transparency among the hot topics.
Dowling agreed the agitation among farmers leading to the formation of the taskforce was price.
However, he stressed the only item within the taskforce’s remit relating to price was increased bonuses, which have been applied across the board.
Three transparency reports completed by Grant Thornton were also raised with a number of grievances expressed.
The final report states beef sales in Ireland total €2.7bn, with the total purchasing price for cattle underpinning these sales placed at €2.2bn.
However, information from those purchasing beef outside Ireland was not available to give a full picture of the final value of an animal.
On specifications to qualify for in-spec bonuses, a second report found they were all required by some markets, but not all.
Under 30 months and quality assured (QA) were the standards most commonly required.