Delays in young bull slaughtering undoubtedly put pressure on producer profit margins, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney acknowledged in a written reply to a Dáil question.
“But neither I nor any agriculture minister can interfere in a trade that is cyclical in nature and prone to short-term price fluctuations,” he said.
Mr Coveney said he is, of course, entirely sympathetic to those farmers facing difficulties in getting their cattle slaughtered.
“But cattle prices are determined by the interplay of supply and demand, and I have no function in relation to commercial transactions between the meat factories and their suppliers,” he said.
Mr Coveney said it is the responsibility of the industry — in this instance, processors and farmers working together — to manage the type and volume of cattle being brought to market.
This was to ensure the supply chain operates for the benefit of both parties and does not undermine the viability of bull beef production systems for either winter finishers or suckler farmers.
“I understand that producer and meat processor representatives have recently engaged in dialogue with a view to resolving the short-term oversupply of young bulls and I would encourage the various bodies to continue this discussion,” he said.
Mr Coveney was replying to TD Charlie McConalogue, who had asked about the engagement he had with beef processors to push for a fair price for farmers in view of the current bull beef crisis.
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