Matt Carthy MEP
The Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has reiterated his party’s call for urgent measures to be put in place that will secure a meaningful price increase for Beef Farmers.
The Monaghan based representative was speaking this week as IFA protests continued at retailer & distribution centres and following the publication of figures from the Beef Price Index reveal that Irish prices are 50c/kg behind the price in Britain. Carthy also described the price increased announced by ABP last Friday as ‘minimal and wholly insufficient’.
Matt Carthy said: "I welcome the fact that the Beef Taskforce is up and running. The lifting of injunctions related to the summer beef protests is also to be welcomed but were too late in coming to secure any good will among the farming community.
"The images of further farm protests this week show that the fundamentals of the beef sector remain imbalanced and unfair, farmers continue to operate at a loss and this is entirely unsustainable. Farmers, and the communities that depend on them, need a substantial and realistic increase in the base price they receive. The small increase announced by ABP is minimal and wholly insufficient.
"The Beef Price Index has indicated that prices secured by Irish farmers are 20c/kg behind the EU average (€80 per animal) and 50c/kg behind British prices (€180 per animal). This is happening in a scenario where Irish beef is among the best in the world.
"The differences in the prices secured by Irish family farmers with their counterparts across Europe is the difference between our farmers surviving or being forced out of business.
"The price discrepancies point to margin manipulation by both factories and retailers. Big money is being made from Irish beef but it is not going to the primary producers. Instead, retailers and factories are making a killing and it is little wonder that farmers have felt that they have no choice but to take to the picket lines.
"If the Beef Task Force is to deliver then it needs to quickly ensure the removal of arbitrary rules such as the 30-month upper age limit and the four-movement restriction which simply serve to distort the position of the farmer in the market chain.
"Fundamentally, transparency throughout the supply chain is required so that the public can see directly who is making a profit from beef and who is being ripped off. That is what Sinn Féin’s Beef Price Transparency Bill seeks to deliver by providing such transparency to not only farmers but for consumers too. I am calling on both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to support our legislation to order to give farmers a level playing field.
"In the meantime Sinn Féin will continue to support those farmers who participate in protests aimed at highlighting the inequalities they face and we will join them in demanding a fair price structure for our family farmers."