Access for meat factories to a €100m processor fund should be contingent on price transparency and developing a suckler beef brand, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) AGM has heard.
At his inaugural AGM as ICSA president, Dermot Kelleher called on Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue not to allow money to be handed out with no string attached.
The funds were set aside to assist meat and dairy processors diversifying away from the UK market post-Brexit.
“The first is absolute commitment to price transparency and co-operation with the food ombudsman.
"The second is that meat processors who are committing their own resources to the suckler brand should get priority for the funding,” Kelleher said.
“This fund is explicitly for the processing and marketing initiatives of processors and we believe that it must be used to develop suckler beef as a premium brand with a view to returning a strong premium to suckler beef producers.”
Bord Bia’s €6m commitment to developing such a brand was the first step, but on its own “will not be enough”.
“I don’t want to see us falling at the first hurdle. Developing a suckler brand will require trial and error,” Kelleher said.
“There must be absolute commitment from all stakeholders to turn this dream to reality.”
During his address, Kelleher also called on the Minister to find a solution to the BEAM scheme difficulty.
He said a scenario where thousands of farmers are forced to return badly needed money could not be allowed.
The ICSA has proposed offering alternatives such as spreading slurry using trailing shoe technology or switching to protected urea.
The Irish Farmers Journal exclusively revealed that the Minister has sought an extension for farmers to achieve the reduction from Brussels.
However, Kelleher railed against this suggestion.
“An extension to the end of the year is not the solution, it is simply kicking the can down the road,” he said.