Thursday, 3 October 2019

Ceisteanna (271)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

271. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the progress to date in implementing the measures announced following recent negotiations with farming organisations and the meat sector in relation to the urgent need to improve price returns to farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40446/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

There have been a series of formal negotiations with beef stakeholders, facilitated by my Department, since early August, culminating in an agreement being reached between stakeholders on Sunday 15 September.

The parties to the Agreement reached on 15 September are:

- Meat Industry Ireland

- Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association

- Macra na Feirme

- Independent Farmers Organisation of Ireland

- Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association

- Beef Plan Movement

- Irish Farmers Association

- Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association

 The full text of the Agreement is available at:

https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/farmingsectors/beef/Agreement15September170919.pdf.

The Agreement involves a number of interventions which will provide immediate benefit for beef producers, as well as a range of strategic measures which seek to address structural imbalances in the sector.

Beef producers will benefit from an immediate increase in a range of bonuses. This will increase the level of bonus being paid on certain animals, as well as significantly increasing the number of animals which are eligible for a bonus. The cumulative effect is that over 70% of all steer and heifers slaughtered will now be eligible for a bonus on top of the base price paid. 

A number of actions in the area of market transparency, beef promotion and strengthening the position of the farmer in the supply chain are included in the Agreement. These measures set a course towards greater clarity for all stakeholders involved in the beef supply chain, primarily farmers. 

My Department is also proactively engaging with several potential beef Producer Organisations, which have to potential to strengthen the bargaining power of beef farmers in the supply chain. The first beef Producer Organisation was official recognised by my Department on 11th September.

I am establishing a Beef Market Taskforce to provide the leadership to develop a sustainable pathway for the future of the beef sector in terms of economic, environmental and social sustainability.   The Taskforce will provide for a robust implementation structure for commitments entered into in the Agreement, with timelines and stakeholder engagement.  Furthermore, the Beef Market Taskforce will offer a suitable platform for strategic engagement with key stakeholders, including retailers and regulatory authorities.

I am pleased to announce that I have appointed Michael Dowling as independent Chair of the Taskforce. Its membership will include representatives from my Department, relevant State agencies, farm organisations and the meat industry.  Arrangements for the first meeting of the Taskforce are currently being finalised.