Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal North East Charlie McConalogue is calling for the establishment of a Beef Regulator to deal with the ongoing beef crisis.
He claims the current situation is jeopardising the livelihoods of some 100,000 farms across the country, with almost 5,500 beef farmers in Donegal alone.
Speaking in the Dáil last night in support of a Fianna Fáil motion to establish a Beef Regulator Deputy McConalogue said beef farmers in Donegal have become increasingly squeezed over the past year.
This has come about with the collapse in bull beef prices, stringent labeling requirements and changes to age and weight specifications by processors, he claimed.
“In the past six months beef prices have plummeted by as much as 20% and are now well below an economically viable standard.
“The fall in Irish beef prices comes at a time when retail prices in the UK are rising, leading to questions about retailers margins here. Many farm organisations claim the larger multiples are increasing their margins at the expense of the producer, and threatening the industry’s future.
“Farmers in Donegal are already struggling on low incomes. A Teagasc income survey revealed that the average beef producer earned €9,469 in 2013 compared to the overall farming average of €25,000. For many, this crisis could spell the end of their business.”
He said the Fianna Fáil has been calling for a beef regulator in a bid to create a fairer system for farmers and retailers.
“A regulator for the market would increase transparency and create a more level playing field for farmers and retailers instead of allowing large supermarket chains and processors dominate the market. However, any regulator would need to be given proper powers and resources to oversee the industry and make direct recommendations to the Government.
“We need to see decisive action from Minister Coveney instead of the lacklustre detached approach which has been forthcoming. He seems more interested in moving to a new portfolio rather than addressing the crisis that is under his nose”.