A picture from a recent Beef Plan meeting in Longford
Representatives from the Beef plan group recently met with the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed TD, the first official meeting between the group and the minister.
During the meeting, a number of practices in need of urgent attention were outlined by the group, such as the residency/4 movement rule, age limit rules and more. The group conveyed to the Minister that with Brexit looming, the beef sector was ‘broken’ and in need of urgent action.
The meeting comes after the group met with delegates from Bord Bia to discuss at length the 12c bonus payment for in-spec cattle. The main issue surrounding this was that farmers who are not QA accredited cannot avail of this bonus, even though the meat can still utilise the Bord Bia mark.
The other two main issues discussed were factory prices and grading and trim grading issues. The group have called for transparency from beef factories in terms of carcass grading and excessive trim, with a reported 21 grading machines taken out of commission in the last two years.
“Prices are already on the floor without additional factors potentially affecting carcass value,” the group said.
“Only 2% of carcasses were independently inspected in 2018. When you consider that in other jurisdictions, grading machines are checked daily to ensure they are working correctly – whereas in Ireland it is weekly, it all adds up to less transparency and accountability.”
The group have called for trained farmer representation on the factory line, along with the provision of carcass images to farmers. They are also seeking an appeals process, so they can get answers on grades, weights and fat scores. The other issue was factory prices, with the group noting that factory prices have remained static over the past month and significantly below the cost of production.
They warned that this is not sustainable, especially when farmers are working hard to produce a high quality product, that meets all regulations.
“Processors and retailers must remember that farmers are not obliged to continue to supply cattle with the current unsustainable returns.
“The industry is in crisis,” they concluded.