Beef farmers need to be supported not patronised - Nolan
Independent TD Carol Nolan has described the response of the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, to her plea for more direct interventions to stabilise and support the beef sector as "underwhelming and unhelpful."
Deputy Nolan was speaking after she questioned the Minister on the matter during Questions on Promised Legislation in the Dáil.
"The fact is that farmers in Laois-Offaly and beyond remain mired in a beef crisis that is becoming more and more deeply embedded with each passing week," Deputy Nolan said.
"We have a factory pricing system that is bordering on cartel-like behaviour and that continually leaves suckler farmers feeling manipulated and shortchanged."
"We have currency fluctuations which are only compounding problems such as decreasing rates of payment like the recent 5cent dip in price per Kg."
"Added to this, of course, is the volatility in the beef sector being generated by Brexit."
"It was less than helpful then to hear in the Minister’s reply that one of his key suggestions is for farmers is to ‘organise’ in order to maximise their ‘clout’."
"Apart from being a slightly patronising reply, surely this is the function of government and the department especially in terms of their role in monitoring and removing anti-competitive factory price practices or making more effective representation at the European level with respect to CAP," Carol claimed.
"The Minister says he cannot intervene directly in the market, but what if the factories who comprise a significant element of that market are actively working against the ordinary farmer?"
"The fact is that this Minister, while well intentioned, has been talking of introducing mitigating measures and supports for suckler farmers since at least 2017."
"There is little evidence that any of these are having the kind of on-the-ground impact that we need."
"We need to remind people that at the national level, suckler farmers play a key role in generating more than €2.4 billion in beef exports each year."
"At the local level, the point has been well made that for every €1 we provide to suckler farmers, more than €4 of economic activity is generated in local economies," the independent TD added.
"Supporting our beef and suckler farmer is therefore a win-win scenario not just for rural Ireland but for the entire economy,” concluded Deputy Nolan.