An Act to ensure the provision of an equitable price for beef to farmers operating in that sector, in order to ensure that it is a sustainable means for them to earn a livelihood; to abolish the 30-month rule concerning cattle; and to provide for related matters.

Be it enacted by the Oireachtas as follows:

Short title and commencement

  1. (1) This Act may be cited as the Equitable Beef Pricing Act 2019.

(2) This Act shall come into operation on such day or days as the Minister may by order or orders appoint either generally or with reference to any particular provision and different days may be so appointed for different provisions.

Interpretation

  1. In this Act–

“beef” means cattle or beef;

“the Minister” means the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine;

“price” means the consideration paid or to be paid to the farmer concerned.

Minimum Price Payable to Farmers

  1. (1) A person acting in the course of business shall not purchase beef from a farmer for a price less than the minimum amount for the time being standing prescribed by the Minister by order made under this section.

(2)  A minimum amount specified by an order under this section shall not be less than the relevant average break-even point most recently published by Teagasc. In determining the minimum amount to be prescribed by an order under this section, the Minister shall also have regard to:

(a) the need to ensure that farming in the beef sector shall be a sustainable means of earning a livelihood for those farmers who are engaged in that occupation; and

(b) the consideration which consumers may reasonably be expected to pay for beef products having regard to economic conditions existing at the time of the making of any order under this section and having regard to the need specified in subparagraph (a).

(3)  An order under this section may specify different minimum amounts for different classes of beef.

(4)  Subject to the provisions of this section, the Minister may by order under this section amend or revoke a previous order made under this section.

(5) Every order under this section shall specify the date (not being earlier than 14 days following the date on which such order is made) on which such order is to come into force.

(6) Every order made under this section shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the order is passed by either House within the next 21 days on which that House has sat after the order has been laid before it, the order shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.

(7)  A person who contravenes this section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable—

(a) on summary conviction, to a Class A fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both, or

(b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €50,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or both.

(8) Where an offence under this section is committed by a body corporate and it is proved that the offence was committed with the consent or connivance, or was attributable to any wilful neglect, of a person who was a director, manager, secretary or other officer of the body corporate, or a person purporting to act in that capacity, that person, as well as the body corporate, shall be guilty of an offence and may be proceeded against and punished as if he or she were guilty of the first-mentioned offence.

(9) For the avoidance of doubt, contravention of this section as varied by an order made under this section which was in force at the time of such contravention shall for all purposes be deemed to be a contravention of this section.

30-Month Rule

  1. (1) From the commencement of this section, a person acting in the course of business shall not subject beef over the age of 30 months to treatment (whether as to price or as to any other condition of trade) less favourable to a farmer than the treatment to which beef below that age would be subject.

(2)  A person who contravenes this section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction, to a Class A fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both.

(3) Where an offence under this section is committed by a body corporate and it is proved that the offence was committed with the consent or connivance, or was attributable to any wilful neglect, of a person who was a director, manager, secretary or other officer of the body corporate, or a person purporting to act in that capacity, that person, as well as the body corporate, shall be guilty of an offence and may be proceeded against and punished as if he or she were guilty of the first-mentioned offence.

Duration

  1. (1) Subject to subsection (2), each provision of this Act shall cease to be in operation on and from the day that is 12 months after the date of the coming into operation of that provision.

(2) A provision of this Act may be continued in operation from time to time by a resolution passed by each House of the Oireachtas, before the expiry of that provision, resolving that that provision should continue in operation for such period as may be specified in the resolutions.