The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission’s (CCPC) approval of the Dawn Meats acquisition of Kildare Chilling will reduce competition for beef and sheep farmers, according to the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA).
IFA president Tim Cullinan said this approval will affect farmers, not only within the 100km radius of the meat plant, but throughout the country.
“Allowing any reduction in competition between buyers of cattle and sheep is not acceptable. The CCPC has failed farmers yet again in facilitating this acquisition,” he said.
The CCPC announced its approval of the Dawn Meats deal on Friday.
Cullinan highlighted that the findings of the CCPC investigation accept that competition will be reduced by the deal, but, by its measure, not substantially.
In its comprehensive submission on the deal, he said that the IFA called out the problems associated with the contraction of processing competition in the cattle and sheep sector in Ireland.
The sale of Kildare Chilling removes another significant standalone plant, he explained.
The IFA president said that the CCPC decision brings the role and powers of the Office of Fairness and Transparency in the Food Chain into sharp focus.
“Regulators continue to allow less competition by allowing these acquisitions and mergers of processors in an area that lacks any level of price transparency outside the farmgate,” he said.
Cullinan insisted that the new regulator office must step up to the plate and prove its worth to farmers by ensuring the Dawn Meats deal does not reduce farmer returns from the market place.
The IFA president also identified sheepmeat pricing transparency “shortcomings” in the Department of Agriculture.
He highlighted that beef prices are published weekly on the Department website for each category of animal for each factory, but that no such system is in place for sheep prices.
Cullinan called on the Department to replicate the price reporting system that is in place for beef prices for sheep farmers to help provide more transparency for the latter in the sale of their animals.