Ministers Meet To Discuss Beef Crisis

A meeting has been held between Agriculture Ministers Michelle O'Neill and Simon Coveney to discuss the difficulties facing the Irish beef industry.

There has been large reductions in market prices in Ireland, the UK and Europe this year due to a range of factors, such as supply and demand dynamics, retailer procurement strategies, customer loyalties and the relative costs of alternative protein sources such as pigmeat and poultry.

It has also been said that the traditional trade in live animals from Ireland, for slaughter in Northern Ireland, is also down. As a result, this has led to a reduction in demand from Northern processors for animals born in the Republic, as the meat from animals born and slaughtered in different Member States is subject to more complex labelling under EU rules.

During the meeting, both Ministers agreed that the issues around origin labelling are complex, and that any consideration of them should be informed by what is legally possible, and in the best long term interests of both farmers and consumers. They also reaffirmed their commitment to the ongoing collaboration on a number of issues, including the harmonisation of animal health and welfare policies North and South, and to work together with a view to positioning beef produced on the island as a premium product.

Sinn Féin's Dáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Martin Ferris, welcomed the meeting. He said: "Beef farmers and the livestock marts are under awful pressure due to a reduction in cattle prices and the implementation of unreasonable specifications by processors and retailers

"One of the penalties being applied to cattle coming from the South is costing farmers up to £150 a head, just because it has crossed the border and is being designated 'nomad'.

"Livestock has been traded all over this island for centuries but this healthy commerce is being damaged, to the point of disappearance by this labelling issue, which is having a knock on effect on competition in the marts.

"I welcome the commitment today from the agriculture ministers to address the problem on an all-Ireland basis, intending to write jointly to the main retailers to encourage them to relax their specifications."


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