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'Substantial progress' made at meeting of beef taskforce but farmers say questions remain

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said discussions were well underway among the various stakeholders.

Minister Michael Creed.
Minister Michael Creed.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE HEAD OF the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association has said the second meeting of the beef task force, which saw retailers come to the table for discussions, highlighted “varying and diverging views” around beef quality and sourcing. 

ICSA president Edmond Phelan said the major retailers attending the taskforce today gave no indication that the 30-month rule, which aims to keep older beef out of the food chain, is as important a requirement in the Irish market as processors say it is. 

“While all the retailers agree the Quality Assurance was of paramount importance, retailers are not as rigid on the issue of 30 months as we had been led to believe,” he said this evening. 

“There were also varying and diverging views on other in-spec requirements including the four residency rule and the 60-day residency requirement on the last farm.”

On price, Phelan said a strong case was made to the retailers that current prices paid to beef producers fall way short of what is required.

It has been made crystal clear that beef farmers cannot continue to produce at below the cost of production. To this end, we are pleased that the retailers have agreed to co-operate further with the price composition study.

“The outlook for 2020 means that China must deliver a better price for beef. ICSA are clear that given the current increased demand, unless the Chinese market can deliver results in 2020, it’s doubtful it ever could.”

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Following the meeting today, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, who was instrumental in setting up the taskforce, said there has been “substantial progress made” in delivering on the beef sector agreement. 

“The work of the taskforce is now well under way with substantial progress made in the delivery of commitments under the beef sector agreement,” he said. 

“I am pleased to see Irish retailers engaging constructively with the work of the taskforce, as it is imperative that mutually beneficial relationships across the supply chain are maintained and developed to secure the future of Irish beef.”

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