29 June 2019
By Elaine Murphy
Member of the Oireachtas Agriculture, Food and the Marine committee, Carrigaline based Senator Tim Lombard, has said that new measures to boost the beef sector would support hard-pressed beef farmers in Cork.
Senator Lombard was speaking in the wake of the committee’s report, ‘The Future of the Beef Sector in the context of Food Wise 2025’.
“The Government’s Food Wise 2025 plan predicts significant export growth of 85% for the Irish agri-food industry over a ten-year period. The beef sector will play a key role in that growth and I want to see Cork beef farmers supported in this effort after what has been a difficult few years in terms of profitability.
“I know that our local beef farmers have been seeking support for some time now and this report is a welcome step in that it makes a series of recommendations to protect the future of the Irish beef sector. It examines the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and potential threats to the Irish beef industry.
“One of the key proposals is to obtain an EU quality mark called Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) for Irish suckler beef. This would help beef farmers and exporters market their product more effectively, and would secure the beef sector’s future as a key player in the Irish agri-food industry’s predicted export growth.
“The report identifies Brexit, Climate Action measures, Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform and the prospective EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement as potential threats to the beef sector.
“It calls for the exclusion of beef products in the EU’s Free Trade Agreement with the founding members of the Mercosur; Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. We do not want cheaper and less carbon efficient beef from South America entering the EU market and undercutting Irish beef prices while also undermining progress towards meeting the EU’s climate change obligations.
“The report also recommends that live exporters set up an association to represent their interests and that the Department would establish a dedicated section with the Department specialising in the live export trade.
“I also support the call in the report to do a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) in consultation with relevant stakeholders about the implementation of the Unfair trading Practices Directive, and to facilitate a review of the Quality Payment System (QPS) and associated grading practices.
“This report is very timely in the context of ongoing negotiations on CAP and the overall EU Budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework. The report notes the importance of ensuring that the concerns of all stakeholders are considered in the formulation of Ireland’s CAP Strategic Plan.
“With the projected growth of Irish Food exports, I believe that the future can be bright for beef farmers in Cork and I will continue to work with Minister Creed and my colleagues on the Oireachtas as Agriculture Committee including the Chair Pat Deering TD to achieve that.”