SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie has said the time has come for the price differentials for beef cattle between Northern Ireland and Britain to be corrected.
Miss Ritchie said: “There is a compelling need and obligation upon the Northern Ireland Executive, the British Government and in particular the DEFRA Department to ensure that the local beef industry and the farmers involved in it are protected.
“For quite a considerable time beef farmers have been subjected not only to quite a volatile market situation but also beef farmers in Northern Ireland have received a lower price for cattle compared to their counterparts in Britain who quite often receive a higher price for the same type and weight of animal.
“This feature was identified in the EFRA Select Committee’s report and investigation published last year on Farmgate Prices. This issue has been disconcerting for many local beef farmers and has had a financial downwards impact on the sustainability of their businesses.
“As the situation has not yet improved, I have made further representations to ministers McIlveen and Eustice urging that they intervene in this particular issue.
“In this regard, I have asked the following questions: To outline DEFRA’s most recent assessment of the difference between the average beef price in Northern Ireland and the average beef price in Britain. To outline what work DEFRA can do alongside DAERA to reduce the price inequalities NI beef producers and processors face from national agri-food purchasers?”
She added: “I would hope that DEFRA and DAERA Ministers can place an important spotlight on this issue to ensure that a resolution to the differential beef prices between Northern Ireland and Britain can be resolved in order to bolster and support our local farming industry.”