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Sinn Féin outlines proposals for the future of the red meat industry to LMC

31 March, 2004

Sinn Féin agriculture spokesperson Cllr Gerry McHugh has set out what proposals for improving market returns for the red meat industry in a new decoupled environment. Cllr McHugh said "we are meeting the LMC on Thursday morning to put our position on what we believe the LMC need to do to in developing the industry for the future".

Mr McHugh said:

"We have looked at the current situation within the red meat industry, and during a number of public meetings with farmers, which we held recently; we firmly believe that radical change is necessary.

"It was very obvious during the inquiry which I took part in during the last Assembly that there is a poor relationship between farmers and the LMC. The two main reasons for this are the apparent cosy relationship between the Meat Exporters Association and the LMC and the failure to adequately represent farmers on the board.

"Within the recent reforms of the CAP quality and ability to sell on a world stage are key components for the future of the red meat industry. The agricultural community on the island of Ireland must equip itself with these tools if farming is to remain profitable on the island and for the jobs within the processing industry are to be maintained."

Note to Editors

Sinn Féin will be putting our proposals to the LMC on Thursday morning, April 1st 2004 and furthering this discussion with the British NIO Minister Ian Pearson on Thursday afternoon.


A new body needs to be created, which has at its core remit the promotion, marketing, and branding of meat, which allows producers to increase their market share at home and abroad.

This new body must be established to ensure that farmers have ownership and control (a co-operative). It must established itself on an all island basis and develop an instantly recognisable brand, which is clear and distinguishable.

· The all island approach would immediately incorporate the "food island" approach adopted by Bord Bia,

· Agree to similar classification standards for grading of beef on the island,

· Pursue the need for all island mechanical grading, to deliver objective grading,

· Agree similar quality assurance standards,

· Give an impetus for the whole beef industry to gear itself up for the challenges ahead of EU enlargement,

· Allow the whole island to come together and Promote, Brand, and Market collectively,

· Develop with other agencies a labelling system which gives complete consumer confidence, clearly showing where the animal was born, reared, slaughtered and processed,

· Allow for industry input at board level,

· Set out a strategic 10 year plan,

· Give government observer status,

· Providing very transparent processor pricing,

· Develop on an ongoing basis with its members, improvement of the genetic merit of livestock.

This new organisation would have the ability to establish itself in selling Irish red meat internationally, with the highest standards, along with

complete traceability, autonomy, and control over the development, branding and marketing of red meat.

It would deliver real benefits for

· Farmers as owners, with a majority on any board ensuring ownership,

· Flexibility to bring in expertise as observers,

· A single voice in selling branded Irish red meat,

· A single voice in lobbying government at home and in the EU,

· Substantial core mainstream funding from it's farmer members, from the industry, and from both governments,

· Power locally within the retail sector to achieve as high a level of home produced red meat on the shelves as possible,

· Inbuilt ability to assist farms in identifying any remedial work needed, in continuing to belong to the assurance scheme,

· The ability to deal directly with all local government departments and local authorities in persuading them to buy their red meat locally,

This new farmer co-operative would have thousands of members across the island of Ireland. It would allow farmers for the first time to be a driving force within the red meat industry. The co-operative would also be flexible to complement other organisations which are active in promotion and providing the traceability for the red meat industry.

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