BEEF prices at marts and in the factories have collapsed even though prices in the UK have gone up, Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard has told the Upper House.
He said he recently attended a meeting in Skibbereen that was attended by approximately 400 beef farmers. ‘One could feel the disquiet, to say the least, among the community where the beef industry, particularly the suckler industry, is going,’ he said.
Senator Lombard said he could tell the House the actual price it costs to take an animal all the way to the factory, but after that it goes into a black hole and ‘we do not know where the costings go’ until the product actually ends up in retailers’ fridges. ‘These are important issues,’ he said. ‘I propose that we schedule time for the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to come to the House to discuss the beef industry. Time needs to be allotted to the beef industry.’
Senator Lombard, who is himself a farmer, said the Senate should have a ‘real debate’ on it and to identify solutions. ‘More important, we need to see what legislation needs to be changed to ensure farmers get what is appropriate at the farm gate. What we really need is a labelling system. We need to ensure that everyone knows exactly how much the farmer gets paid on the label. The knock-on effect will be that we find out the margins that the retailers and factories get, so we know who is getting what out of every side of beef.’