IN the Dáil last week, Cork South West TD Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Agriculture to respond to criticism that the beef task force is moving at a frustratingly slow pace and is not properly engaging with farming organisations.
Deputy Cairns, who is the Social Democrats’ spokesperson for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said: ‘The Minister must be aware that beef prices continue to be unacceptably low. His statement in support of the task force is not reflected in the reality experienced by West Cork farmers.
‘Farmers are not seeing any benefits during one of the hardest years ever – and Brexit is just around the corner,’ added Ms Cairns. ‘I believe the sector can rise to the many challenges facing it and that the task force has an important role to play.
‘However, farmers feel they are again being sidelined in the task force process. Just two weeks ago, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association wrote to the chairman of the beef task force demanding more urgency and expressed frustration at a lack of engagement on Brexit,’ said Deputy Cairns, herself a beef farmer.
‘Farmers are raising concerns that the processors are not holding up their end of the beef sector agreement and are waiting for a response from the Department of Agriculture.’
She concluded by claiming that: ‘The core issue remains that the industry is out to get as much profit as possible and continues to give low prices to farmers and treat workers poorly.’