Following a meeting of the Beef Forum last evening (Wed), IFA President Eddie Downey said good progress was made by the IFA on all of the key specification issues including reinstatement of the Quality Payment System, the removal of weight limits and a new Quality Assurance incentive payment for all steers and heifers from Jan 1st 2015.
On the separate issue of cattle prices, Eddie Downey said IFA is determined that prices must move on and that increased market returns are passed back to farmers. He said the thousands of farmers who protested at the factories over the unacceptable €350 price gap with the UK have sent a very strong message that cattle prices must increase. Prices have risen by another 5c/kg this week.
Mr Downey said the behaviour of the meat factories this year on specifications and their dealings with farmers has seriously damaged trust. “The beef protest has sent a clear message to meat factory bosses that farmers must be treated fairly and with respect. At last evening’s Forum, Minister Coveney secured agreement from the meat factories that the specifications issues will be resolved.”
Eddie Downey said the Quality Payment System is fully reinstated with a single base price per factory for steers and separately for heifers. This means no dual base pricing by breed, age, weight or Quality Assurance status.
IFA has secured agreement with Minister Coveney that the factories will introduce a targeted, cost- neutral price incentive for all steers and heifers from Quality Assured farms from Jan 1st 2015.
It has been agreed that processors and Bord Bia will engage with customers, and DAFM will engage with third country markets with a view to increasing the age specification for premium beef from 30 to 36 months of age.
On farm movements, it was agreed that factories will harmonise the system of counting the four farm residencies for paying the QPS in spec bonus and the Department will make the necessary adjustments to the AIMS system for this purpose. In addition, it was also agreed to secure flexibility on the number of movements and length of residency as well as removing the barriers on sale through the marts and ensuring the QPS bonus.
Eddie Downey said full price transparency right along the beef chain is essential. He said it is now agreed that the current statutory price reporting system based on the R3 price is the accepted system of cattle price comparisons across the EU. It has also been agreed to develop a market index with a view to having more transparency in the chain.
It was also agreed that the processors will introduce a transparent remittance document.
On weights, IFA was very clear that there could be no price cuts. It was agreed there will be no price penalties on any animals on weight up to Dec 31st 2015. Teagasc, ICBF and Bord Bia will examine the implications of weight on the suckler herd.
Eddie Downey said it was agreed that the processors would operate more contracts for winter finishers and bull beef producers.
The IFA President said it was also agreed that the Department will strengthen controls on the carcass trim in meat plants in accordance with EU Regulations.