Belfast Telegraph

Agreement reached in beef crisis talks

The deal includes an immediate increase in prices for farmers and reform of the Irish beef sector.

(Brian Lawless/PA)
(Brian Lawless/PA)

By Cate McCurry, PA

An agreement to the end beef crisis has been reached after marathon talks over the weekend, the agriculture minister has confirmed.

The deal includes an immediate increase in prices for farmers and reform of the Irish beef sector.

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said the agreement was reached between meat industry representatives and farm organisations including the Beef Plan Movement.

The agreement involves a number of interventions to provide immediate benefit for beef producers, as well as a range of strategic measures to address structural imbalances in the sector.

The agreed measures set a course towards greater clarity for all stakeholders involved in the beef supply chain, primarily farmers Michael Creed

Farmers have been protesting about the prices they receive for beef since July.

Confirming details of the agreement, Mr Creed said: “Beef producers will benefit from an immediate increase in a range of bonuses, including an increase of 66% in the current in-spec bonus for steers and heifers from 12 cent to 20 cent per kilo.”

It also include a new bonus of 8 cent per kilo for steers and heifers aged 30 to 36 months.

The minister said a beef market taskforce will be established to develop a pathway for the beef sector in terms of economic, environmental and social sustainability.

The taskforce will be independently chaired by an appointee of the minister, and will include department officials, state agencies and nominees from farm organisations and the meat industry.

Mr Creed said the taskforce will provide a robust implementation structure for commitments entered into in the agreement, with timelines and stakeholder engagement.

I hope that this agreement will prove to be a first step in fostering stronger partnerships in this critical sector for the Irish economy and for rural Ireland Michael Creed

The government expects the agreement will bring to an end protests outside meat processing factories.

In a statement Mr Creed said: “A number of actions in the area of market transparency, beef promotion and strengthening the position of the farmer in the supply chain were agreed upon.

“For example, an immediate scientific review of the Quality Payment Grid by Teagasc, an independent review of market and customer requirements, specifically in relation to the four in-spec bonus criteria currently in operation in the Irish beef sector.

“The agreed measures set a course towards greater clarity for all stakeholders involved in the beef supply chain, primarily farmers.

“I wish to thank all participants in this process for their contribution towards agreeing a way forward for the Irish beef sector.

“I hope that this agreement will prove to be a first step in fostering stronger partnerships in this critical sector for the Irish economy and for rural Ireland.”

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) said it welcomed the conclusion of the beef talks.

A spokesman for MII said: “We recognise the challenges all involved in our industry face.

“The agreed package contains significant positive financial initiatives by MII members, in areas of specifications, bonuses and supply chain transparency.

“The agreement requires that all protests and illegal blockades cease immediately so that normal processing can recommence, employees can return to work, farmers can sell their animals, and efforts can be made to rebuild customer confidence.

“This has been an extremely damaging episode for all stakeholders in the beef and sheep sectors.

“It has occurred at a time of significant and continuing challenges in the EU beef market. It is of particular concern given the closeness of Brexit and the major implications that a no-deal outcome presents for our sector.

“Throughout the disruption over the last seven weeks, MII members have maintained close contact with their farmer suppliers with cattle to sell and with customers to reassure them of our continued commitment to being best in class at servicing customers’ requirements globally.”

PA

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