Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD has slammed recent commentary from Meat Industry Ireland as “reckless” and stated that their assertions have “undermined the effectiveness of the taskforce”.
Teachta Carthy was responding to media statements from MII that claim an unpublished report has found that farmers receive 80% of total sales revenue. The Grant Thornton report is one of a series of reports commissioned by the Beef Taskforce, itself established following farmer protests in 2019.
Teachta Carthy said:
“If this claim were true it would mean that the members of Meat Industry Ireland are the worst business operators in this state. Considering the low wages in the sector and poor prices secured by farmer suppliers, it would be bizarre if factories were operating at the margins they claim this report suggests.
“In truth, we know that that the meat processing industry is highly profitable. If they want to dispute this then they should publish their full accounts rather than hide behind unlimited company status to avoid transparency.
“Members of the Taskforce have expressed outrage to me that MII have made these claims.
“They have advised me that there was absolutely nothing presented at the meeting that would substantiate it.
“If MII have a basis for their commentary, it raises questions as to whether the industry have been presented with information withheld from other members of the taskforce.
“Even more frustrating, I am told, is that this commentary breeches the agreed ethos of the Taskforce as one stakeholder took it upon itself to leak an analysis of the unpublished report that will clearly be disputed by others.
“Beef farmers across the state are angered by the pre-empted attempt to frame the narrative of the Grant Thornton report before its publication.
“Ultimately, the Minister for Agriculture is responsible for this Taskforce. If it is to be a success, he must intervene to ensure that all members engage in good faith. If he is to ensure confidence and goodwill, the Minister must also ensure that all members of the Taskforce are immediately furnished with the relevant section of the draft report, as well as the underlying data and methodology.
“The Taskforce was established after the beef protests of 2019. Farmers did not wish to protest at factories or travel to Dublin but felt that they had no option but to highlight the glaringly obvious inadequate prices farmers receive.
“A fair price to the primary producer of food is a pre-requisite for a secure and sustainable food chain. If the claims of MII were even partially substantiated, it would demand a fundamental re-alignment of the entire food processing sector. It is clearly not sustainable for beef farmers to operate in the medium-to-long term at current prices”.