Can Beef Plan dream end cattle farming nightmare?

Having a beef producer group of 40,00 members was highlighted as a lever to lower input costs and put pricing pressure on factories, at the Beef Plan meeting in Kanturk.

It was claimed that the movement’s membership now stands at 11,000 strong.

For the Beef Plan to work, beef farmers need to come together.

You may think that is straightforward, on paper at any rate. In Kanturk, all seemed united, but attitudes could change in the cold light of day.

Clearly something needs to be done because, up to now, little was done.

However, getting beef farmers together could be a hard task.

By our very nature, those of us involved in beef farming can be a stubborn and admittedly sometimes contrary bunch.

Beef farming is a very isolating endeavour.

Unlike dairy farmers who have traditionally been in constant contact with the co-op and with other dairy farmers, the beef man or woman tends to work on his or her own.

It’s a business that can get a person well used to his or her own company, and very suspicious of any new venture.

So coming together as a group and holding the line together as a group will, I believe, be the greatest challenge of all for the Beef Plan movement.

And beef farming is now at such a dismal spot, that pressure from banks, and other overdue accounts, could force many to break ranks and sell stock out of necessity, thus eroding producer group strength.

Time will tell if the beef plan is a Utopian dream or one that really can get us out of this current nightmare.

At least it is a plan, and that means that spokesman Eamon Corley has already achieved one of his goals.

He explains, “Back in 2014, I got together with a group of farmers in Co Meath who, like me, weren’t happy with the way beef farming was going.”

“We decided to form a producer and purchaser group, and what we learned from dealing with the factories was that the larger the group, the greater the power of bargaining we had.

“The one thing I have never understood, in all my years involved with various organisations within farming, is why there has never been a proper plan for beef.

“It beggars belief that we have never had a proper plan for our industry.

“I vowed a long time ago that if ever I got to a positon where I could do something to rectify this, I would.”

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