The need for the financial pressure on beef farmers to ease through an increase in prices was raised by farmer representatives at Thursday’s beef forum in Dublin to meeting chair Minister Michael Creed and meat processor representatives.

“I think the meat industry now realises that farmers can’t continue to produce at low prices. They didn’t say they were going to do anything about it at the meeting, but the penny might be dropping that we are not prepared to do it anymore,” ICSA beef chair Edmond Phelan told the Irish Farmers Journal.

He said that the increasing supply of beef was an issue raised at the meeting and added that ICSA is discussing a potential policy position on a beef supply reduction scheme. “It is not about maximising production, it is about optimising production. There’s no point us producing if there is no market,” he said.

Increasing output was a point commented on by IFA president Joe Healy afterwards. “Growing output alone, without improving incomes on livestock farms is an unsustainable strategy for the Irish beef sector,” he said.

Strong response

Healy called on the Government to mount a strong response at a national and EU level to the challenges that Brexit presents. He said that Brexit has been blamed for the reduction in beef prices and described it as a market disturbance similar to the Russian ban, which justifies action from the EU Commission.

This was the ninth meeting of the beef forum and the second under the chairmanship of Minister Creed. The minister reiterated his aim to secure new markets for Irish produce in a statement afterwards. “Increasing our footprint internationally, we will help to mitigate the effects of Brexit and develop our agri-food sector to realise its full potential,” he said.

After a meeting of the beef forum in July, criticism was raised because of a lack of discussion between stakeholders due to too much time being taken up with presentations. “The format was slightly different and we were able to ask questions about the topics,” ICSA’s Edmond Phelan said.

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