Galway-Roscommon TD Michael Fitzmaurice has accused the Irish beef industry of “cartel behaviour” in its prices and called on the EU to investigate.
Deputy Fitzmaurice said that he has asked the European Competition Commissioner to investigate the alleged difference in prices paid by the Irish beef industry to farmers compared with other EU countries.
“If you look at data from the Livestock Meat Commission for the week ending November 24th, you will see Ireland is languishing in 9th position when it comes to the average price received for an R3-grade heifer with just above 350c/kg.”
“Meanwhile, farmers in Northern Ireland and Britain placed in 4th and 5th respectfully in the leader board – receiving almost 40c/kg more for the same animal compared to Irish farmers.”
“The Irish beef price would have to rise by almost 50c/kg to reach the top of the table or by 35c/kg just to break into the top six.”
Michael Fitzmaurice said that he contacted Commissioner Vestager earlier this week and has received and acknowledgement from her office.
“The game is up for meat factories in Ireland. Farmers have been taking a price well-below the cost of production for some time and the processors have been extremely slow to pass on price increases despite markets improving,” he claimed.
The Independent TD said that the price differences between Ireland and other EU countries are “scandalous”.
He acknowledged that the meeting of the Beef Taskforce this week was a positive step, but called on Minister Creed to put pressure on factories to increase their prices for farmers.
“Farmers have suffered for far too long at the hands of processors and when it is time to pass on the benefits of improving markets, they keep the purse strings firmly tightened until it is impossible to deny any further that a price increase is warranted.”
He went on to further accuse beef processors that “when markets are depressed, factories have no hesitation whatsoever to handing the cut directly back to the primary producer.”
“With the glut of cattle in the country reducing all the time, one would imagine that price increases are imminent – as well as long overdue.”