IFA President Eddie Downey said there is no scientific reason why a restrictive 30-month age limit on prime cattle should continue to be applied in the Irish beef sector.
Eddie Downey was speaking following a meeting between an IFA livestock and sheep delegation and senior veterinary officials in the Department of Agriculture, including the Chief Veterinary officer.
Eddie Downey said Ireland will move to a “negligible risk” BSE status from May this year following a meeting of the OIE (International Veterinary Authority). He said, “This is a very significant milestone and will close off an extremely difficult chapter on BSE, which arose in the 1990s. It should also open a new era of increased access to international markets and reduced costs, which in turn should deliver increased opportunities and prices for Irish beef farmers”.
As part of the IFA campaign to increase the age limit on prime cattle from 30 to 36 months, Eddie Downey said that with the change in our BSE status from May, processors, retailers and Bord Bia need to work together to deliver on this important outcome of the Beef Forum. He said the delivery target set by Minister Coveney as Chairman of the Beef Forum is that there will be no 30-month age limit applied in summer 2015.
Eddie Downey said Bord Bia have outlined that the vast majority of Ireland’s 80 plus top retail and food service customers do not have a 30-month age requirement. He said “There is now no scientific or market roadblock to increasing the 30-month age limit to 36 months and we must see delivery.”
Eddie Downey said the change in our BSE status and the recommended changes by the European Food Safety Authority to reduce SRM (Specified Risk Material) should result in significant savings in disposal costs for processors, which in turn will also add to the value of the carcase and cattle prices to producers.
The Department officials provided IFA with an update on the progress being made in opening a number of key international markets for beef including access for manufacturing beef to the USA and full access to China. In addition, sheep meat access to the USA and China were also discussed at the meeting. IFA also pushed the need to secure live export access to a number of markets including Turkey for cattle.
Eddie Downey said the positive progress made on market access is very welcome and ultimately farmers will measure this when they see the benefits in terms of increased exports and prices for their stock. IFA also discussed the difficulties with the TB eradication programme with the Department and highlighted that controls and restrictions that do not contribute to eradication but only add costs to farmers must be removed.