CLARE beef suckler farmers are rowing in behind a national drive that would see them achieve at least a 10% saving on major annual outgoings, as well as a similar increase on factory prices.
“There is stronger bargaining power in big numbers. In County Meath they have successfully trialled a system where they are buying their farm inputs at reduced rates because the are forming agri buying groups. That’s the model were are striving for in Clare and it would be invaluable for the small producer,” said Clare Beef Plan spokesman, Joseph Woulfe.
Mr Woulfe said they have more than 800 farmers signed up to Beef Plan in Clare and with more than 4,300 with suckler herds in the county, there is scope for a lot more members.
“We need more farmers on board to strengthen our hand For example, in normal circumstances, a farmer might pay €1,000 for diesel for machinery and household kerosene in the same delivery. However, in a group buy situation the same farmer might get the same delivery for €900 and the beauty is that the arrangement for delivery would remain exactly the same,” he stressed.
Mr Woulfe said this idea could be replicated with co-ops and big farm supply stores, which he claimed are “controlling prices”.
“There are savings to be had for farmers buying feed, fertilizer, and big items such as drainage pipes, water tanks, trailers or wire fencing – a list for the year. We are aiming for a 10% discount, at the very least. You’re not talking about dropping into the co-op for a shovel or spare parts,” he said, adding that Beef Plan has already engaged with several outlets.
“We are also doing a deal with veterinary products and treatment, which is a serious element of farm costs.
The object of all this is to enable the “small man compete with the big man”, Mr Woulfe explained.
“Already the big producers are able to do big deals. They can have a truck with a full load arriving at their gate, satisfied that they have got a decent discount. We as small producers are entitled to the same treatment, so the shared bulk buy is the only option if we are to compete.
Mr Woulfe said the Beef Plan is also the approach that should be taken in selling animals.
“Again it’s the big men in the trade that control prices and the small producer is at a huge disadvantage. We must work together to overcome this. We must sell as a collective unit under Beef Plan so that we can level the field and get the best possible price at the mart and factory.
“Beef Plan can work in Clare and all over the country if farmers are prepared to fight for better deals, which will lead to better stand of living and the prospect of remaining on the land,” Mr Woulfe concluded.