Concerns raised over ‘blatant exploitation’ of farmers

The “blatant exploitation” of Irish farmers by the meat industry is “unacceptable” and must be eradicated, so that farmers will be paid a fairer price for their beef.

This is the demand of Galway Reform Alliance senator Fidelma Healy-Eames, who is calling on the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, to “act or take the consequences of lower production”.

According to the Maree based senator, English farmers get the equivalent of €1 a kilo more for their beef than Irish farmers. This amounts to about €300 more for the same animal.

“I hear it every day from Galway farmers,” she said. “They are not making money on beef so they may as well sit back, qualify for their single farm premium, and not produce it. The time has come for farmers to be smart and to stop working for a system that is not respecting them.”

Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesperson and Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív has meanwhile raised the issue of the exploitation of farmers by large supermarkets.

The Connemara TD has called on Ireland’s EU Commissioner designate Phil Hogan to put his issue “on top of his agenda”.

“The figures are stark. Beef prices are down 20 per cent this year, with farmers now receiving €200-€300 less per head on average,” he said. “Two of the main issues affecting the beef price are the ‘bull beef’ specification issue and the beef labelling problem.”

He said such price falls are the result of “artificial barriers” which have been “put in place by powerful interests”, but that there was “now a need to take on these interests”.

Fianna Fáil is proposing the introduction of a €200 per head payment for one year for farmers under the Beef Genomics Scheme. Dep Ó Cuív is also calling on Minister Coveney to ensure that all beef born, bred, and slaughtered on the island of Ireland is labelled Irish beef.

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