Business Farming

Thursday 28 August 2014

Beef exports at risk from plans to boycott Bord quality scheme

Declan O'Brien and Martin Ryan

Published 15/07/2014 | 02:30

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ICSA president Patrick Kent.
ICSA president Patrick Kent.

FARMERS are threatening to boycott Bord Bia's quality assurance scheme for beef because of what they claim is abuse by meat processors.

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Two organisations representing beef farmers have said they will torpedo Ireland's multi-million euro beef export strategy unless changes are made to the quality assurance (QA) system.

Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) president Patrick Kent said the organisation was "declaring war" on the abuse of the QA scheme by the factories and retailers.

"Farmers cannot continue to support a scheme indefinitely where only one in four cattle gets a quality assurance bonus even though 87pc of animals slaughtered come from quality assured farms," Mr Kent said.

He said the ICSA was issuing an ultimatum to processors and retailers: "deal with the issues raised by farmers, or farmers will have no option but to boycott quality assurance."

And in a further blow to the quality assurance, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) has warned that serious questions about farmer participation in the scheme were now being asked.

Among the farmers' demands is an immediate stabilisation of beef prices, followed by price increases as demand improves.

Bord Bia said it regards "the principle of paying for quality, and rewarding carcasses that best meet market requirements, as fundamental to its support for the Quality Payment System, which was originally agreed between farmers and factories".

Around 42,500 farmers are members of the Bord Bia QA scheme.

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