IFA President Eddie Downey said the response of Meat Industry Ireland (MII) to the Dowling Report is totally inadequate, lacks specifics and fails to address the issues raised by farmers with the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.
Eddie Downey said the failure of the meat factories to deal in detail with the real issues that are at the core of the current crisis further highlights the urgent need for the Minister for Agriculture to show real leadership and immediately convene and chair a meeting between IFA and meat factories.
The IFA President said the key issues that are causing the most financial hardship for livestock farmers are the application by factories of unacceptable and unjustifiable price and spec cuts for weight and age in the Quality Payment System (QPS). “These price penalties were not part of the original QPS and are being used as a tool to devalue livestock. The analysis by MII of the prime cattle kill is simplistic and ignores the real issue, which is the damaging impact these cuts have on the cattle bred from our suckler herd”.
He said if the MII claim in their response that the QPS remains at the heart of their payment system, then livestock farmers from today should only be quoted one base price for their cattle with the practice of different prices depending on weight, age and breed which has been common practice, immediately discontinued. He said beef finishers should insist on this.
IFA Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said claims by the factories that farmers have not advanced efficiency ignores the high participation rates of farmers in schemes such as BTAP, the Beef Genomics scheme and the €20m they have invested to-date in the BVD eradication scheme.
Furthermore, he said the penalties meat factories want to persist in applying for age and weight limits prevent farmers from maximising grass based production, which is the production method which gives Irish beef its competitive advantage in the market place and minimises production costs.
Henry Burns said Teagasc figures clearly show that it is our most efficient farmers that are the ones hardest hit by the imposition of weight and age cuts. Even on these farms, Teagasc show a price of €4.50/kg is needed to make a margin in winter production and farmers expect to hear from their factories what contracts and other commitments are available this winter.