The Social Democrats today said the government must renew efforts to resolve the ongoing beef crisis so that farmers receive a fair price for their produce and jobs are secure.

Fair pricing structures should be an essential part of any industry, particularly one as large as the beef sector. Farmers are protesting because they are at their wits end and are struggling to pay bills. Factory workers are also suffering due to lay-offs.

The current impasse is benefitting no one and renewed efforts must be made to come to a fair resolution. The government needs to redouble efforts to ensure that all parties involved come back to the table because that is the only way to bring the current dispute to a timely and satisfactory resolution and develop a viable future for the beef industry.

The beef sector has a wider value to the rural economy, but it is facing an existential crisis as market conditions continue to deteriorate. The government is not brave enough to tackle these problems at the root to both guarantee livelihoods and ensure food security. It’s abundantly clear that the current model is not viable for farming families or our environment.

It is now clear that there is a role for the Competition Authority to take a look at the current situation and conduct an assessment of the industry to ensure that a cartel-like situation is not in existence or indeed does not occur into the future.

If farmers are not supported and continue to be blamed for asking for a fair price then so many family farms will fold by the winter, the idea of grass-fed farm to fork beef will fade away over the years to be replaced by feedlots.

Farmers are currently holding on to cattle, not wanting to cross the protest by their fellow farmers, but as the winter gets closer and farmers see the writing on the wall – that they won’t be able to feed them over the Winter, then farmers will get desperate. Some will try to pass the protests, neighbours will be at war with neighbours.

The pressure of loans to pay for fodder over the winter for cattle they can’t sell and not seeing a future in the industry they love will drive some to an early grave. The current crisis is a symptom of the deep-seated crisis in the beef sector. The government needs to face up to the truth about the farming industry.


20th September 2019

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