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THE price of cattle in Ireland has changed very little over the past 20 years. The cost of feeding an animal over the winter months, including veterinary charges, would just about match the sale price.
So why has the price of meat gone to a level that makes Ireland one of the most expensive countries in Europe?
I think we can blame EU regulations covering the butchering of animals and the storing of meat. These have resulted in the closure of hundreds of butcher shops.
Could it be that the Department of Agriculture went a bit over the top in enforcing the rules? If you travel through France and see all the open markets selling all sorts of dairy produce, including meat, it would seem so.
A few years ago on a visit to Britain I was amazed to see meat hanging on hooks outside a butcher shop in Stafford. It’s 50 years since the likes of that was seen in Ireland. EU regulations nowhere to be seen.
Meat factories and large supermarket chains have taken over the whole dairy produce and meat industry. They dictate the prices and they take most of the profit. Then the consumer blames the farmer who is finding it hard to make ends meet.
Large supermarkets can buy their produce wherever in the world they can get it cheapest and then sell for the highest margin of profit.
They can even sell it below cost to draw in customers to buy other high-priced goods. The small guy just can’t win. Sold are the ‘Fields of Athenry’ along with at least half of the livestock marts in the country. What was Teagasc doing over the past 10 years apart from selling off lands formerly used for agricultural research.
Talk about selling the goose that laid the golden egg — or have we become too posh to dig?
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