Action must be taken on issue of beef prices: Irwin

DUP MLA Willaim Irwin
DUP MLA Willaim Irwin

Chairman of Stormont’s Agriculture Committee, DUP MLA William Irwin, has said beef prices must improve if producers are to be able to sustain their farms in the longer term.

Mr Irwin made the comments as he reviewed current beef prices against the same period last year and said that the 30p per kilo deficit has had a huge impact on farm incomes.

He said: “With prices around 30p per kilo less than they were at this same stage last year, it is obvious why farmers are concerned at the pricing trend. Farmers are incurring substantial losses at this time when they send cattle for slaughter. With mainland UK prices continuing to better our own local prices by some 40p per kilo, it is clear that beef producers are under mounting pressure.

“There are a number of stakeholders who can and must move to improve the outlook for our beef producers. Meat plants and the supermarkets simply must do more and step up to the mark. I have spoken to many farmers who are very angry at their treatment on pricing and it is important that recognition is given to the plight facing our beef farmers.

“At our recent meeting with ASDA and Tesco I very robustly put the concerns of producers directly to the representatives and relayed to them the views of producers on the gulf that exists between the prices the farmer receives and the price displayed on the super market shelf.

“The DARD committee will be meeting with representatives of Sainsbury’s next week and that will be another important opportunity to put forward firmly the case of our beef producers and stress the need for supermarkets to move positively to assist our meat industry.”

He concluded: “As chairman of the committee I will also be meeting in the next few weeks with the UK Grocery Code Adjudicator and I will again bring forward the concerns of all sectors within our agri-food production base. I will use any and every opportunity to highlight the imbalance in the supply chain and fight for a better deal for our under pressure farmers in all sectors.”