In a detailed meeting this week with Beef Activation Group Chairman Michael Dowling, IFA Livestock Chairman Henry Burns set out a number of priority issues that must be addressed in his report scheduled to be presented to the Minister’s round table Beef Forum before the end of May.
Henry Burns said putting profit back into beef production must be at the heart of any recommendations brought forward, and we need to see price benchmarking and transparency that ensures Irish farmers are getting full market price for their stock.
The IFA livestock leader said that the abuse of farmers’ trust in the grid payment specification system for livestock has to stop to allow confidence to be re-built. “Specifications cannot be open to change at the whim of factory bosses. The system has to accommodate our grass-based production systems and suckler cow herd. It must also incentivise rather than penalise producers for meeting Quality Assurance and market spec requirements.”
Higher age limits for bulls and steers, bonuses for all QA cattle, flexibility on the number of cattle movements, sale of QA finished stock through marts, and premiums for all cattle finished out of sheds and the inflexible and unworkable weight limits being suggested must all be addressed as part of Michael Dowling’s report.
Henry Burns said all finished animals must be sold on the QPS grid as agreed, flat, or to a pre-agreed and contracted specification. Serious sanctions should be imposed on any processor who alters specifications in an attempt to get cattle on the cheap.
In addition, IFA are insisting that labelling concerns that have the potential to seriously disrupt the live export trade to Northern Ireland be addressed as a priority and action taken to reassure farmers that factories have no access to the CMMS system.
On trade talks, it is critical that the Irish Government gets on the pitch now to ensure that Europe does not sell out our beef and white meat sectors to a Mercosur trade deal being actively pursued at this time.