Sinn Féin spokesperson on agriculture, Martin Ferris TD, has criticised the downward pressure being applied by processing companies on the prices paid to farmers.
Deputy Ferris raised the issue in a Dáil Committee discussion on the cattle and sheep sector. He pointed out that Irish farmers are receiving 20% less than farmers in Britain and around 40c less per kg than farmers in the north even though it is often the same companies who are buying the cattle.
The price difference with Britain means that Irish farmers are receiving on average €370 per animal less than farmers in Britain
Deputy Ferris said: “A small number of companies dominate the beef processing sector. Over the past month and more they have applied strong downward pressure on farmers with attempts, in one week, to cut the price paid by as much as 10c per kg. That is unacceptable at a time when there is strong demand for Irish beef and where in our main export market, Britain, farmers have seen a healthy increase in the prices which they are receiving from the factories.
“Many farmers believe that the companies are taking advantage of them in the aftermath of the fodder crisis and at a time when there is a ready supply of cattle from farmers many of whom are still attempting to recoup losses from the crisis. “While farmers are determined to insist on at least a baseline payment of €4 per kg, many are also abandoning sucklers which could have serious long term implications for the Irish beef sector. I therefore call on the Minister to reintroduce the suckler premium in the forthcoming budget.”