Midlands beef farmers hit hard by current Covid-19 crisis
Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson Brian Stanley TD has called on the Agriculture Caretaker Minister to urgently reconvene the Beef Taskforce, which has not met since January.
Speaking earlier, Deputy Stanley said: "The Beef Taskforce must be immediately reconvened. Farmers across the constituency have called for this due to the crisis in the beef sector.
"The Beef Taskforce was established to deal with urgent matters within the beef sector, yet it has not met since January 2020.
"Beef farmers were struggling prior to Covid-19 and now prices are languishing around €3.40/kg as farmers try to sell their cattle constrained by difficult supply and demand restrictions.
"It has to be questioned why the Minister has failed to reconvene the Beef Taskforce since January and why the taskforce hasn't even met once during the Covid-19 crisis. The technology is there to facilitate a meeting of the taskforce via video.
"The taskforce must meet to discuss a number of issues.
"Firstly, farmers need to receive a higher price for their beef. Pressure must be placed on factories to pay a fair price for what is a high-quality product.
"Secondly, it must look at a temporary ban on the importation of non-EU beef during Covid-19 and discuss what steps can be taken by the Minister to seek the support of other EU member states to pursue the matter.
"Thirdly, we have seen outbreaks of Covid-19 in several meat factories, those who work within the agri-food sector are essential workers, providing a crucial role within our supply chains. Their health anad the food supply chain must be protected as a priority.
"We need to see a plan produced outlining how the Minister intends to deal with these urgent issues."