The Beef Taskforce was established on foot of the beef sector agreement of 15th September 2019. The Beef Taskforce's remit as set out in terms of reference was to monitor the implementation of the actions arising from that agreement. The Taskforce was to meet at least quarterly from October 2019 for a period of one year after which the Taskforce’s progress was to be reviewed. However, progress was delayed in 2020 due to COVID-19.
As the Deputy is aware, I have requested the independent Chair of the Beef Taskforce, Mr Michael Dowling, to provide a report to me on the progress to date of the Taskforce. It is my understanding that the majority of the actions are now implemented but I await the final report, after which I will make the necessary decision on future strategic engagement with the Sector.
The beef sector agreement contained 38 specific actions. Of these 38 actions, 30 were finite actions which had timelines attached for completion. The remaining eight are ongoing actions, which by their nature, are long term and will continue outside of the context of the Beef Taskforce. All documents from the Beef Taskforce meetings, including minutes and updated progress reports, are published on the Gov.ie website.
Effective strategic engagement across the beef sector is crucial to its development in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way, that works for all actors in the supply chain.
As the Deputy will be aware, the determination of price for beef, or any other commodity, is a commercial matter in which neither I nor my Department, have any role. However, the Deputy can be assured that my Department and I will continue to support constructive strategic engagement within the sector, as well as measures aimed at strengthening the supply chain, including support for Producer Organisations, and interventions aimed at supporting productive and environmental efficiency for beef farmers in the future.
I am also progressing work to deliver a National Food Ombudsman. I am committed to delivering much-needed transparency to the sector and to our farmers.