Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has defended the right of beef factories to make a profit from the industry.
Responding to a request from Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae to intervene in the factory trade to improve beef prices, An Taoiseach replied: “I appreciate that farmers want a decent price for the work they do, but at the same time factories need to make a profit and we also must ensure that consumers pay a reasonable price for their food.”
Farmers are not being paid properly
The response was made in the Dáil on 14 November, after Healy-Rae said that “farmers are not being paid properly for the produce and their income is suffering”.
He also made accusations of a factory monopoly-hold which affected prices paid to farmers.
However, Varadkar questioned the idea of a monopoly.
“I am not sure it is correct to say that there is a monopoly,” Varadkar said.
“The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has examined allegations of a monopoly operating among the beef factories.”
This week, IFA president Joe Healy met with Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and impressed upon them the need for factories to increase the beef price to at least €4/kg.
He cited rising anger among farmers and accused the factories of holding down the price to loss-making levels.
The IFA president also pointed out the price gap between prices in the UK and Ireland. In the UK, R3 grade steers are achieving £3.73/kg, the equivalent of €4.42/kg.
He said that meant the price gap between Irish and UK prices for equivalent grades had now widened by €200/head.