The importation by Aldi of beef from the United Kingdom that is certified as Irish and carrying a Bord Bia stamp needs clarity according to the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA). National President Colm O’Donnell queried how the farm to fork slogan adopted by Bord Bia can be justified when this beef has been processed in a meat plant outside the country. This he stated “is a question raised by members contacting our office this morning and one that Bord Bia now need to answer”.
For some time now he continued “farmers have been expressing their frustration with Bord Bia who are increasingly seen as partners of the meat processors in a battle against beef farmers. The decision to certify imported beef as Irish only adds to this suspicion which is why we need clarity from Bord Bia as part of a full external investigation into the beef sector.”
Any such investigation will stated O’Donnell “need to look at all aspects of the industry including, pricing, the role of the retailer both in Ireland and Europe, rendering, data protection compliance in relation to AIM’s, the role of Bord Bia and policies around the 30 month, four movement and 70 day residency rules. While some have suggested a statutory investigation or a beef regulator there is the option of involving the EU’s Competition Authority (DG Competition) who could deliver independence and full transparency.”
In recognising how any actions such as this will take time the INHFA President stressed how a full investigation is essential in delivering fairness and restoring confidence for farmers. In the meantime there is he stated “a need for the Minister to refer the 30 month and 70 day residency rule back to the CCPC to see if they comply with the EU’s unfair trading practices, which could allow the Minister to intervene directly and suspend both rules.”
In addressing the current crisis he stated “how MII’s decision to pull out of the planned talks is a flawed decision that they need to review. There is also the requirement to immediately suspend all legal action (and the threat of) against farmers and their representative bodies who have a right to protest. Talks could under these circumstances then resume and provided there is willingness by processors to engage in good faith on price and the 30 month rule an agreement can hopefully be reached.”
O’Donnell concluded by emphasising how “the actions taken by farmers is not just a reaction to recent price reductions but a statement of intent that they will no longer be taken for granted and have their livelihoods undermined. In order to find a solution we need a more conciliatory approach from the processors and engagement with all stakeholders including representatives of the protesting farmers.”