IFA Position on 30-month Specification


IFA President Joe Healy has clarified the IFA position on the 30-month age rule and other criteria applied by factories for farmers to receive a 12c/kg ‘In-spec’ bonus payment.

Joe Healy said “The IFA position has always been that all prime cattle from Quality Assured herds should receive a QA bonus, with no other additional specification or criteria, such as the 30 months age limit.” IFA put this position very strongly to Minister Creed and the factories at the beef talks.

Along with membership of the QA Scheme, the 30-month requirement is one of four other criteria applied by factories to qualify for the 12c per kg ‘In Spec’ bonus payment.

These additional criteria are:

  • animals under 30 months of age;
  • maximum four farm residencies;
  • 70-day residency prior to slaughter;
  • grades of O= or better, and between 2+ and 4= fat score.

To justify these specs, the meat factories have stated that these are demanded by some other countries and by some retailers, particularly in the UK. This position has been supported by Bord Bia and the Department of Agriculture.

The 30-month rule has its origins in the BSE crisis. Time has moved on and there is no longer any veterinary basis for the rule. However, some countries and some UK retailers continue to have it as a requirement. If we want to supply their markets, we have to meet their specifications.

As part of the original agreement in Backweston on August 21st, it was agreed that ‘An in-depth review of market and customer criteria in relation to the four In-Spec bonus criteria will be carried out’.

This position was accepted by all the farmer representatives present on the night on the basis that we needed to understand the full consequences for Irish cattle prices and market access of removing or adjusting any or all of the four specifications.

The IFA National Council and National Livestock Committee met this week and supported the in-depth review agreed with Minister Creed.  They made it clear that if the review shows that these specifications are not justified, then they should be removed.

The IFA President said throughout this beef crisis, farmers have been fed a huge amount of false and misleading information. This has raised completely unrealistic expectations. There has been a lot of talk about ‘leadership’ during this crisis. Leadership is about more than just telling people what they want to hear.

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