Beef Taskforce must be reconvened immediately - Brian Stanley TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Brian Stanley TD has called on the Minister for Agriculture to urgently reconvene the Beef Taskforce, which has not met since January.
"The Beef Taskforce must be immediately reconvened. It was established to deal with urgent matters within the beef sector but it has not met since January of this year.
"Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was clear that beef farmers were struggling amid an extremely challenging market. Unfortunately, the pandemic has seen these difficulties deepen. Prices are now languishing at around €3.40/kg as farmers try to sell their cattle while dealing with constraints caused by difficult supply-and-demand restrictions.
"The Minister for Agriculture must explain the failure to convene the Beef Taskforce since January and in particular why the taskforce hasn't even met once during the Covid-19 crisis.
“We all know that traditional means of holding meetings have been disrupted due to socially distancing, however the technology is there to facilitate a meeting of the taskforce remotely via video link and ensure these important issues receive the attention they deserve.
"The taskforce must meet to discuss a number of issues, and three issues must be top of the agenda.
"Firstly, farmers need to receive a higher price for their beef. Pressure must be placed on factories to pay a fair price for what is a high quality product.
"Secondly, there needs to be consideration of a temporary ban on the importation of non-EU beef during the Covid-19 pandemic, along with discussion of what steps can be taken to seek the support of other EU Member States in pursuing the matter.
"Thirdly, we have unfortunately seen outbreaks of Covid-19 in several meat factories. Those who work within the Agri-food sector are essential workers providing a crucial role within our supply chains. Their health must be protected as a priority.
“The Minister must outline how these pressing issues will be addressed as a matter of urgency.”