Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has urged continued, constructive dialogue between participants in the beef sector talks.

Marathon talks between the Minister’s Department and agencies, farm organisations and meat factory representatives ran for over 12 hours from Monday afternoon into Tuesday morning.

After talks concluded at 2am on Tuesday, the Minister noted that progress had been made and he thanked the participants and independent chair Michael Dowling.

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A document based on the discussions will be produced by Dowling.

The Beef Plan Movement, IFA, ICMSA, ICSA, INHFA, Macra and Meat Industry Ireland (MII) all sent representatives to the meeting held at the Department's Backweston facility.

Transparency

IFA president Joe Healy said some progress had been made on market transparency and the introduction of a price index. He said there was also a commitment to look at market specifications in the grid that impact prices.

The IFA said that it expects that talks will resume on either Thursday or Monday next.

ICSA president Edmond Phelan said further work and a full review on the beef pricing grid and related issues such as the 30-month rule and bonus payments to quality assured farmers are necessary.

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“These are very contentious points for farmers and we expect that Bord Bia's analysis on market requirements will inform the process,” Phelan said.

Other areas of progress included agreement to press for further Brexit supports, increased efforts to begin a suckler beef promotion campaign and pressing the EU to suspend beef imports.

Price

However, Phelan stressed that poor prices would continue to be a threat to the viability of the beef sector: "The beef price is well below the cost of production and farmers cannot endure losing money hand over fist. Clearly there are a variety of issues at play in terms of supply and demand in depressed and unstable markets.

“Both processors and retailers need to reflect on the fact that there is only so much loss that can be sustained before the whole house of cards comes falling down."

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