MEP Seán Kelly has written to the European Commissioner for Competition, Joaquin Almunia, and the Commissioner for Agriculture, Daçian Ciolos, expressing his concern over the price gap between the Irish and British beef markets.
The differential, noted as far back as 2009, has reached its highest level in 12 years, according to the MEP, who said beef farmers are paid up to €252 more per head of cattle in the UK, than in Ireland. “I’m afraid that beef farmers, who are already in crisis, could be put out of business by some anti-competitive price fixing. In view of the hardships Irish farmers are going through, it is of the utmost importance that there is no abuse of market power which would distort and artificially depress farm gate prices,” said Mr Kelly.
Meanwhile, the Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland has appointed Oxford Economics to undertake independent statistical research into the causes of differences in deadweight cattle prices between Northern Ireland and GB.
Oxford Economics have been commissioned to undertake quantitative and qualitative research into this price issue and will be in touch with key industry stakeholders across the British Isles over the coming months. LMC expects that the research will be complete, and findings published by the spring.
Cattle farmers in the North have accused processors of creating an artificial beef supply surplus in the Northern market by buying in cattle from south of the border.
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