Ex-Government Minister Denis Naughten has condemned the meat industry for lack of transparency on their profit margin, or the price they can secure for beef on export markets.
Appointed Minister for Communications after the 2016 general election, Mr Naughten — a Co Roscommon TD since 1997 — resigned from the Cabinet last October.
Speaking at the Castlerea Agricultural Show, he said: “The further the animal goes from the farm gate, the less information is made available on price.
“That is why beef price transparency right across the supply chain must be the very first issue on the agenda of the emergency beef summit, which I called for last week.
“This has also been articulated by farmers in terms of the price obtained by processors for the fifth quarter, for which the farmer does not receive a cent.
“This lack of basic information undermines any credibility the industry might have in explaining market trends.
“Furthermore, the industry claim that this is confidential information which could undermine their competitiveness does not hold up.
”This can easily be addressed by anonymisation of pricing, which is a tool in use in other competitive industries in Ireland.
“To get movement on price transparency and many other aspects of the beef sector in Ireland, I’m calling on Minister Michael Creed to convene an emergency summit of all the key players in the beef sector, from farmers right through to the end-user, Irish shoppers.
“This must be an inclusive summit of all aspects of the beef sector, which must be independently chaired.
“At that summit, Minister Creed must commit on behalf of Government to fast-tracking through the Dáil next month the new EU law which will ban 16 unfair trading practices covering agricultural and food products traded in the food supply chain.
“From my own survey, I have clearly shown that the share of the price of beef going to Irish farmers has dropped by one quarter over the last 15 years, and we must now put this trend into reverse without delay, as many suckler farmers will not survive until Christmas unless we have determined and decisive action,” said Deputy Naughten.