If tariffs are introduced on Irish beef exports into the UK, as has been suggested by the UK’s Environment Secretary Michael Gove, then meat plants here will close and there will be job losses is the warning from the director of Meat Industry Ireland.
Cormac Healy told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show that the industry is still hoping for an orderly Brexit with the minimum of disruption.
“There has been a lot of speculation and we haven’t yet seen what approach the UK government is going to take about adopting tariffs.
“If the UK applies tariffs it will have a huge impact on the industry.”
He said that the Irish meat industry wants to continue to supply the UK market. “The reality is that if tariffs come in then there will be plant closures and job losses.”
A tariff support mechanism is the only option to support the industry, he added.
Mr Healy refuted a claim by the Beef Plan Movement that Irish meat producers can sell their product for 20% cheaper than Brazilian beef.
He pointed out that the price today of Brazilian beef is €2.16, Uruguayan beef is €2.70 while Irish beef is €3.85, while heifer meat is €4.
Earlier on the same show, Dermot O’Brien of the Beef Plan Movement had claimed that beef processors have a monopoly of the market and were indulging in anti-competitive practices.
We’re trying to rectify this, we’re representing the ordinary beef farmer. The IFA at local level is wonderful, but it is failing to represent some members.
He said that practices such as the Fourth Movement Rule (if animal moves more than four times it then has to go to the factory) are inhibiting farmers from “getting a decent price.”
He claimed that “there are 60 million mouths to be fed there (in the UK), 80% of our beef goes to the UK. We can sell 20% cheaper than Brazilian beef. Our beef is a world-class product, it is antibiotic free.”
Mr O’Brien said the Movement has “nothing against the IFA” and just wanted the opportunity to be included with the IFA and other farming organisations in future food forums.