The McDonald's market is worth up to 3,000 tonnes of beef to Irish farmers every month
Two of the country's farm organisations have raised concerns for the beef sector following the decision by McDonald's to close all its outlets in Ireland and the UK due to the coronavirus crisis
ICSA beef chairman Edmund Graham called for the immediate introduction of market support measures such as Aids to Private Storage (APS) or intervention in light of the decision.
“In these extraordinary times, it is absolutely vital that we do everything possible to keep cattle farmers in business. Cattle farmers are already extremely vulnerable, and we need to immediately re-set the intervention reference price to ensure price does not drop below current levels,” he said.
Mr Phelan said that ICSA recognised that many sectors were badly impacted by Covid-19.
However, it was critical to understand that farmers were now more vital than ever and were already struggling to stay going at current beef prices.
The closure of McDonald’s represents a loss of over 3,000 tons of beef per month, much of which goes to UK outlets as well as Irish outlets.
ICSA has contacted the Minister and is urgently requesting this to be top of the agenda for the virtual meeting of EU agriculture ministers which is taking place this Wednesday.
The closure will be a major blow to the beef sector as the company is an important buyer of Irish beef, according to IFA president Tim Cullinan.
“Unfortunately, it is reflective of what is happening across Europe where closures have had an impact on the food service sector. However, some of this has been mitigated by an increase in retail demand,” he said.
Mr Cullinan wrote to the European Commissioner for Agriculture last week pointing out that the Commission needed to stand ready to support the EU beef market as it was likely to be impacted by Covid- 19.
He said the EU Commission and Minister Michael Creed needed to instigate a series of measures to support farmers to ensure that essential food supplies continue to be available for all citizens.
- Make the necessary adjustments to EU beef market supports (Intervention, APS) so as to be in a position to provide realistic beef market price supports.
- Move to protect the internal EU market and suspend all non-EU beef imports including South American imports, which do not meet EU standards.
- Adjustments to State Aid rules to give more flexibility to the Irish Government to support farmers.
- Allocate the necessary funding so the Commission is in a position to provide additional urgent direct payment supports to farmers to compensate for beef market losses.
- A review of the inspection requirements so that all farmers can get all of their direct payments without any hold up because of inspections.
“The Irish beef price is already well below the cost of production for farmers. They cannot sustain any further cuts,” he said.