Aontú Leader and Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín TD has guided the “Equitable Beef Pricing Bill” through first stage of the Dáil today. When moving the Bill he stated;

“Many Framers are fighting for their family livelihoods and ability to survive. Of the 130,000 farmers in the state only 1/3 are making enough from the farm to support their families. Another 1/3 are surviving because the farmer is also working off the farm to supplement the family income. A full third of farmers are simply not earning enough to live at all. These farmers are being pushed into poverty, debt and off the land”.

“It is clear that the beef industry, as it currently constituted, is unsustainable. Beef farmers are selling their produce at below cost prices while a collection of processors and supermarkets multiples make astounding profits on the same product”.

“The market in Ireland is an Oligopoly. A small number of Supermarkets and Beef Barons have massive control over all aspects of the market. They are making super normal profits. This is anti-completive and it needs to end”.

“Government after Government has stood over this. Indeed the FG chair of the last Agriculture Committee stated that it was unreasonable for farmers to expect a price over the cost of production. The views of the current Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue mirror this”.

“In the current climate Irish agriculture is already facing great uncertainty and challenges, not least because of Phil Hogan’s EU-Mercosur trade deal that will pave the way for the importation of cheap South American beef into the EU market. We in Aontú are determined to stand up for Irish farmers. It’s a minimum demand that farmers can make a living”.

“Last year the sector was in uproar last year when pickets and blockades were placed outside many beef factories. I travelled the country myself last year to meet with the protesting farmers. One Aontú representative, himself a small beef farmer, was threatened with an injunction along with other protesters at the time. I was forced to go to the High Court to defend these farmers”.

“What we had last year was the extraordinary situation where farmers in poverty were being served with injunctions while beef barons like Larry Goodman make €170m, own €3.5 billion in assets, file their accounts in Luxembourg and are largely untaxed”.

“Aontú’s bill which I’m introducing today would ban the below cost sale of beef, ensuring that farmers make at least a break-even price for their produce. It would do this for a year. It would force the Beef Barons to the table to discuss a real and fair price. The bill, if enacted would also get rid of the illogical ‘30 month rule’ whereby farmer’s are paid a lower rate for a beast which is older than 30 months of age”.

“I note that when I was visiting the protests last year I often had farmers relay to me the fact that other Deputies had visited them – most notably Fianna Fáil TDs. When I brought forward this Bill last year your party FF said that they would support the Bill. Beef farmers up and down the country now have their eyes on FF, watching eagerly to see if you will support or oppose Aontú’s legislation”.