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Coveney continues engagement with beef stakeholders

In advance of meeting Meat Industry Ireland this evening, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, said he would again impress on the meat factories the need to be proactive in addressing the issues identified in the report produced for the last Beef Roundtable discussion.

The Minster has already hosted two meetings of the Beef Roundtable this year to consider recent market developments and to identify the most appropriate strategic response to a range of issues in the sector. Minister Coveney said "the time has come for the key players in the sector to address the issues and priorities outlined in the Dowling report. Our beef and suckler cow industry is the bedrock of the agri-food system in Ireland, and the progress made by the sector in recent years must not be undone".

As part of that response, the Minister reiterated that "flexibility on existing specifications, including those on animal weights, would provide the room required for producers to respond to evolving market requirements. It is clear that the drop from last year's high price levels had sharpened the focus of all in the sector, and underlined the continuing need to adapt to changing market conditions. The last few months, while clearly very difficult, can provide the impetus for reconsidering the way we do some of our business in the beef sector. However, before that can happen, some breathing space is required for producers in terms of what is now being demanded of them through the strict imposition of certain specifications”.

Acknowledging that the response to the Dowling report was not just a matter for one particular stakeholder, Minister Coveney outlined that he has been engaging with producers, processors and retailers on both immediate and longer term issues. The effective operation

of the traditional live trade to Northern Ireland is one of those issues and in this regard the Minister has recently held discussions, with retailers and with his Northern counterpart Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA. In that regard, Minister Coveney will be inviting the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium to a meeting to explore solutions to the current impasse.