In excess of 400 attended the special meeting which took place last Friday, 12th February 2016 in the Landmark Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon    Meeting was chaired by Bernard Donohue local beef farmer and he was kept on his toes for a good three and a half hours.

Speakers on the night included Jonathan Forbes, Group Procurement Manager, Kepak Group; Justin McCarthy, CEO and Editor, Irish Farmers Journal; Joe Gilfillan, Suckler/Beef Farmer;. Henry Burns; National Livestock Chairman, IFA; Darren Carty Livestock Specialist, Irish Farmers Journal.

Joe Gilfillan, Chairman of the local Charolais club and passionate cattle breeder got the meeting under way and outlined his frustrations at the lack of a plan to keep suckler farmers farming in the west of Ireland.  He outlined his system from when he started out 50 years ago.  At that time there was no free trade (Ireland had not yet joined the EU) very little continental bloodlines and suckler farmers were mainly depending on cattle being exported on the hoof to England. The current situation with price cuts resulting from weight limits being imposed by the factories will mean that the typical suckler farmer with continental cross weanlings will lose out and beef finishers will have no chance of making a profit under the imposition of these weight penalties. He queried if beef and suckeler farmers were being pushed back to where they were 50 years ago and wondered if in 50 years time the west of Ireland would all be in forestry and the farmily farm gone forever?

Henry Burns, National Chairman of the IFA Livestock Committee welcomed the opening of the Egyptian market to the live cattle trade and stated that there are on-going discussions with exporters about the resumption of live exports to Libya.  He condemned the EU labelling issues which processors and retailers in the U.K and N. I. are using to impede live trade access to their markets.  He was also critical of the recent moves by meat factories to impose carcase weight cuts and impose penalties adding that the best quality stock  being produced by the most productive farmers were being hurt most.

Jonathan Forbes, Group Procurement Manager, Kepak; Joe Gilfillan, Suckler/Beef Farmer; Henry Burns; Livestock Chairman IFA; Bernard Donohue, Beef farmer & Chairman; Justin McCarthy, CEO and Editor, IFJ and Darren Carty Livestock Specialist IFJ.