Following the establishment of the Beef Roundtable in 2014, the Dowling Report recommended that my Department consider legislating for the recognition of Producer Organisations in the beef sector.
Following this, consultations with a range of stakeholders took place. Subsequently, Statutory Instrument (SI) No. 49 of 2016 was signed into law, establishing the legal basis for recognition in Ireland of Producer Organisations in the beef sector.
In early January 2018, following a public procurement process, I announced the awarding of service contracts to seven different facilitators to provide advisory services to prospective Producer Organisations on their establishment and recognition as legal entities. My Department has made funding available for payments to facilitators pertaining to the establishment of Producer Organisations for the sector. The names and contact details of the approved facilitators can be found on my Department’s website.
At the recent meeting of the Beef Roundtable on 3 October, I highlighted the need for stakeholders to recognise their interdependency. At the forum, I urged processors to engage positively with their farmer suppliers to build the sustainability of the sector as a whole to ensure a reasonable return for the farmers upon whom the sector ultimately relies for its continued development. The Beef Roundtable also included discussions on the potential for Producer Organisations to harness new technologies as a way of adding value along the whole supply chain through increased engagement in the bioeconomy.
To date, my Department, has not received any formal applications for the establishment of Producer Organisations. However, a number of interested groups have been in contact with my Department about their potential. I am committed to driving this initiative and my Department has recently engaged with key stakeholders in the sector, to further identify possible barriers to adoption and to promote the uptake of these groups across the sector.