THE new chairperson of West Cork ICMSA, Clonakilty farmer Eileen Calnan, has begun her term by responding to comments made by ABP’s Mark Goodman urging beef producers and exporters to proceed with caution in terms of selling to China.
As reported by the website, Agriland, Mr Goodman is quoted as advising that the Irish industry needs to proceed with extreme caution and slowly develop sustainable outlets with value-added offerings. This, according to the ABP CEO will take time. He warned explicitly that, ‘if the Irish beef industry gets into commodity trading round cuts and forequarters into China, it will end in disaster if/when the market falls.’
It was this warning of ‘disaster’ that intrigued Ms Calnan: ‘I won’t be the only farmer in West Cork or anywhere else in Ireland that was fascinated by Mr Goodman’s notion that our beef exports to China could end up in disaster.
‘What does he think we’ve been dealing with in terms of the prices we’ve been getting from his own company and the others in MII over the last two years?
‘How would he describe that situation if not as a “disaster”? I’m sorry, but the idea of an Irish beef processor executive warning us that our exports to China might end in tears when all our dealings with Irish meat processors for the past few years have left our own beef farming sector bankrupt and traumatised would be amusing if it wasn’t so serious,’ said the West Cork chairperson.
‘This kind of comment veers close to “adding injury to insult” territory and I’m bound to say, on behalf of my fellow Cork farmers, that if Mr Goodman or anyone else in ABP or MII is so concerned by the financial risks bring run by farmers, as Bord Bia tries to build exports to China, then they can help by beginning to pay a decent price for the top quality beef they get into their factories every week.
‘The sad truth is that even if we’re let down by the market or regulations in China, it won’t be any different – or more damaging – than the way we’ve been let down by the factories and regulations here in Ireland,’ concluded Ms Calnan.