Thursday, 11 April 2019
Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation
I thank the Deputy for her question and particularly for her focus on the beef sector. As she is aware, we place significant emphasis, in the context of a functioning market, on having adequate competition, particularly in the area of live exports. The Deputy may have seen in one of the agri-publications today news of significant interest in cattle for live export to Libya, which is an ongoing issue in terms of competition. With regard to the resources the State can put into the industry, the Deputy will be aware that in the most recent budget we introduced a new initiative in the beef environmental efficiency programme and we increased payments in the areas of natural constraint scheme.
We cannot, nor should we, interfere in the market relationship in terms of being able to influence prices at factory level. However, what we are doing is trying to facilitate the organisation of farmers as a collective so that, instead of negotiating on a basis of one farmer-supplier dealing with the factory, it would be done through producer organisations so they can have greater clout. We have seen a manifestation of that in the most recent development between Kepak and Glanbia in terms of producing to the market and being able to get a premium price for that. A variation of that theme is the producer organisations, which is another area where we are directing support to the beef sector.