An investigation into a proposed recommendation by Bord Bia that Quality Assured (QA) cattle farmers should only buy livestock from other certified QA farms is needed by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).

Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) president Dermot Kelleher made the call following a recent story by the Irish Farmers Journal, which exclusively detailed the proposed recommendation.

“This is potentially a matter for the CCPC to investigate whether this is a breach of competition law being proposed by a State agency.

“This is essentially barring access to the market for sellers and it is restricting the choice of stock available to buyers.

“We recall that the CCPC was not shy in getting involved when poor prices were discussed at meetings such as the Beef Forum to ensure that the State kept out of market-related business,” he said.

Overstepping the mark

Kelleher added that this is a case of “Bord Bia seriously overstepping the mark” and that State agencies are trying to exercise control over farmers.

“This is a case of Bord Bia seriously overstepping the mark and it follows a worrying pattern of State agencies regularly overstepping the mark to the point that they are not only losing the dressing room, but their pontificating is generating massive alienation among cattle farmers.

“These agencies are seen as trying to control farmers and it has gone too far at this stage,” he said.

Some suckler farmers feel the State would prefer if they discontinued their enterprise so climate targets could be met, Kelleher said.

“Suckler farmers are telling me that they are sick and tired of having their business interfered with for reasons which they are dubious about.

“Some have even gone so far as to say the State wants to get them to give up so that climate targets will be easier to meet.”

“It is well-known that the best markets for weanlings are live exports or weanlings that have potential for fatstock sales or fancy weanling heifers with future breeding potential.

“None of these markets require QA and it is extremely disappointing that Bord Bia would seek to create a two-tier market for livestock and devalue one particular cohort in the process,” he added

Kelleher said the ICSA was not on the Bord Bia board or committees and therefore had no part in these discussions and would vigorously oppose them.

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Exclusive: beef farmers should buy from QA herds - Bord Bia