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Ag Minister to Join Beef Talks; Income Crisis Must be Addressed, Says IFA

20 August 2019

IRELAND - At the conclusion of day two of the beef talks, IFA President Joe Healy said that Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has agreed to get involved directly in the talks with a view to resolving the outstanding issues, especially around the 30-month age limit.

A meeting was scheduled with Minister Creed in Backweston at 10am this morning.

Mr Healy said with Brexit just 72 days away, strong EU and Government support is urgently required for beef farmers who are in the middle of a severe income crisis.

"On Brexit, IFA made it very clear that additional EU and Government market supports and direct aid for farmers is urgently required," he said.

On CAP, it was agreed on the need for a fully funded CAP and to protect its share of the EU Budget, and ensure that the current level of direct payments to Irish beef farmers is protected.

On imports, Mr Healy said IFA made a major issue on the damage to the EU beef market and prices from sub-standard beef imports from outside the EU.

He said it was agreed "it should be ensured that imports which do not meet the same stringent standards as EU producers are banned."

IFA secured a strong position for additional funding for targeted direct support for suckler cows.

It was agreed Bord Bia will develop a beef market price index model; there was also an agreement for an independent grocery regulator is required.

DAFM agreed to introduce an appeal system for carcase classification in meat plants where there is manual grading only. IFA is seeking an appeals system in all meat plants.

On insurance charges at the factories, Meat Industry Ireland confirmed that farmers can opt out of paying.

On the QPS (Quality Payment System) it was agreed Teagasc will review the price differentials on the grid in the short term and undertake a full review in the longer term.

It was also agreed on the need for greater transparency all along the beef supply chain. An independent study of price composition along the supply chain will be commissioned by DAFM.

The major issues raised by IFA at the talks included low farm incomes, the need for higher beef prices, Brexit, Sub-standard EU imports, CAP and climate action.

A range of technical issues on the QPS grid, the in-spec bonus requirements, carcase classification, Market transparency, beef price index, producer organisations, insurance and live exports were also discussed.

Mr Healy also said he would be seeking a strong commitment from the meeting that the Irish Government will tackle the issue of sub-standard imports into the EU market from third countries.

"Imports which do not meet the same stringent standards as EU producers must be banned," he said.

The IFA President said greater transparency is needed in the food chain to deliver a fair price back to farmers.

"An accurate price index is essential to arm farmers with key market information and allow them to pursue the full value of their stock," he said.

Mr Healy said IFA will also make a strong case for a fully funded CAP and protect its share of the EU Budget, and ensure that the current level of direct payments to Irish beef farmers is protected.

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