Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Falling Beef prices require open and honest debate

20 July, 2005

Sinn Fein Agriculture spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michel Gildernew has said that falling beef prices require concerted action.Ms Gildernew said:

"The farming community is once again in the grip of mounting losses, due to the sharp downturn in beef prices.

"Farmers were optimistic earlier in the year, that with the start of the Single Farm Payment leading to a reduction in the numbers of cattle together with strong trade in the marts would mean that beef prices would move ahead.

"Instead farmers are almost in a situation of being panicked into getting cattle into factories. Some factories are not taking cattle for six weeks with no firm promise on prices.

"The importing of large amounts of Non EU beef is also contributing to the downturn in prices. Whether it be from Brazil or Argentina, it makes little difference, farmers here cannot even begin to compete.

"It is disappointing that when farmers have committed themselves to a partnership approach in terms of a first class quality product, that supermarkets continue to use their buying power to push down prices, by either buying large quantities of Non EU beef, or by using this beef as a price base line to force down the price for top quality Irish beef.

"It would be interesting to hear from the large supermarkets, who trumpeted the new partnership approach with farmers, if they are purchasing Non EU beef, it would also be interesting if hear from our local processors in the NI Meat Exporters Association (NIEMA) how much if any Non EU beef they are currently processing.

"It is time that the whole meat industry became a lot more transparent in the way it operates, and supermarkets stopped leading farmers up the garden path with promises of partnership they have no intention of keeping. Farmers

deserve a fair price for their produce and questions need to be asked about

where the profits are being made because it is certainly not on the average

family farm." ENDS

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