Beef farmers’ confidence ‘at all time low’, warns Kilkenny councillor
BEEF farming has never faced such an uncertain future and farmers’ confidence is at an “all time low”, a Kilkenny councillor and General Election candidate said today.
Councillor Patrick O’Neill (pictured below) spoke out in the wake of a recent Teagasc report which reveals beef farmers are earning an annual income of just €12,000, far below the minimum wage.
Cllr O’Neill, who comes from a beef farming background, told KilkennyNow.ie: “Confidence is at an all-time low and the current price trends are worrying and completely unsustainable. Average incomes this year on beef farms is at €12,000.
“A number of farmers I have spoken to are going to make a considerable loss on their stock this year at current prices and debt levels on beef farms are close to becoming unmanageable.”
Cllr O’Neill also hit out at “anti-competitive practices” within the beef industry, which he said are threatening the entire future of the industry.
He added: “Factories owning feedlots and factories having access to stock numbers across the country through the department database are two key areas that need to be challenged. The four movements rule and age limit restrictions on cattle are also sticking points for farmers.”
Cllr O’Neill, who was recently added to the Fine Gael ticket for the next General Election in the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency, warned that ongoing uncertainty over Brexit is also feeding into local farmers’ fears for the future.
In the case of many Kilkenny beef farmers, the only money coming in is from subsidies, mostly in the form of the Direct Farm Payment which comes from the EU.
The Department of Agriculture is currently talking submissions on the future of the beef industry, and Cllr O’Neill urged “as many farmers as possible to make submissions over the coming weeks” to ensure their voices are heard.
Details on how to make a submission can be found on https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/committees/submissions/.
The closing date for submissions is 5pm next Thursday, March 15.