As the deputy will be aware, as Minister for Agriculture, I have no role in determining the price of any market commodity, nor do I have any role in dictating the setting of margins of operators within a supply chain. Neither can I, as Minister, intervene in these commercial matters. As such, this is not data that my Department collects.
Cattle prices are influenced by a variety of factors such as the level of consumer demand, production levels and exchange rate differences. The UK's decision to leave the EU also presents enormous challenges for the entire beef sector.
I am, however, very conscious that the beef sector is currently facing a difficult period. I am deeply committed to fully supporting and developing Ireland’s beef sector. I am strongly of the view that the existing range of supports available to beef farmers, together with ensuring access to as many markets as possible, both for live animals and beef exports, are appropriate for the continued development of the sector. According to National Farm Survey data, suckler farmers receive support equivalent to approximately €500 per suckler cow on average.
Additionally, I welcome initiatives to improve market transparency on EU agricultural markets. The establishment of Market Observatories for the various commodities has been widely recognised as having a beneficial effect and have resulted in a significantly improved market overview in terms of increased transparency, dissemination of market data, and analysis.
The draft Commission implementing regulation, published on 22 May, aims to further increase market transparency by collecting more detailed price data at various points along the food supply chain. It is currently under consideration by my Department.
One of the unique strengths of the agri-food sector has been the shared vision for the sustainable development of the sector in Food Wise 2025. It is crucial that we all continue to work together. At the last Beef Round table meeting, I highlighted the need for stakeholders to recognise their inter-dependency and to support the sector through examination of mechanisms to add value along the supply chain and increase the strength of all links in the supply chain, including Beef Producer Organisations.
Officials in my Department are currently engaging extensively with stakeholders in relation to Beef Producer Organisations which have strong potential to help strengthen the position of the primary producer in the supply chain.