Speaking ahead of a Beef Forum meeting in Backweston, IFA President Eddie Downey said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must take a tough line and insist that the outcomes agreed at the last Forum in November are fully implemented. He said progress has been made across a number of issues on specifications and prices are moving in the right direction, but there is a lot more work to be done.
Eddie Downey said key issues for the Forum will be an update on the progress on beef price transparency; movement on the age issue from 30 to 36 months; Quality Assurance; and bull beef production.
IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said serious lessons must be learned from last year where the factories and retailers took full advantage of the 150,000 head increase in cattle numbers and played havoc with prices and specifications. He said a strong live export trade is crucial to maximise price competition and to avoid a repeat of the marketing problems that damaged livestock farmers’ incomes in 2014.
Henry Burns said the Beef Forum must deliver on full market price transparency, more competition and that the factories must fairly pass back market returns in cattle prices back to farmers. “The age limit must be lifted from 30 to 36 months as set down in the forum. The Department of Agriculture must increase the level of checks on carcase trim in each meat plan as agreed at the Forum and the AIMS system for counting the number of farm residencies must be changed.”
Henry Burns said Minister Coveney must challenge the factories on their less than honest effort to introduce a worthwhile incentive on steers and heifers from Quality Assurance farms. On bulls, the IFA Livestock leader said the discussion must focus on profitable bull beef systems that utilise our grass-based production.